Three girls aged between 12 and eight years have been sent to a place of safety after Durban police arrested a man accused of being their "pimp".
The girls - two of whom are thought to be street kids - are being kept by police until their parents are found.
Police said a 35-year-old parolee accused of pimping the young girls was operating from the notorious Mahatma Gandhi Road, formerly Point Road, in Durban.
The man, who police do not want named so as not to jeopardise their investigations, allegedly made quick money by "organising female children" to have sex with older men for R1000.
He was arrested on Thursday after police received a tip-off from members of the public. He is due to appear in court shortly.
Police spokesman Muzi Mngomezulu said yesterday that the children were being kept at a place of safety while investigations were going on.
The suspect is facing charges of human trafficking under the Sexual Offences Act, Child Protection Act and Human Trafficking Act. He said customers with "sexual interests" allegedly paid the suspect R1000 for each child, of which he pocketed R700 and the R300 went to the child.
"The suspect had been released on parole two months ago after he was arrested for a drug-related offence in 2006 and was sentenced to eight years in prison. Members of the Durban organised crime unit, after gathering information, then set up a trap that led to the arrest of the man on Thursday.
"We suspect that some of the children are street kids. The information we have so far is that the man allegedly communicated with his clients by phone and usually transported the children in a metered taxi to meet with the customers," Mngomezulu said.
"We are still trying to establish over what period the whole thing had been going on for."
Mngomezulu said cases of human trafficking such as these were very rare in the province.
"This is the first time that we hear of such young girls being used as sex slaves. Previously, we had cases of women being lured with promises of jobs, only to be turned into sex slaves," he said.
He urged the community to come forward and assist police in the fight against human trafficking.
"They do not have to mention their names," said Mngomezulu.