S v DOS SANTOS 2018 (1) SACR 20 (GP)


Human trafficking — Sentence — Imprisonment — Life imprisonment — Woman part of criminal enterprise trafficking young women to South Africa for sexual purposes — Sentence upheld on appeal.


Theappellant appealed against a sentence of life imprisonment imposed on her in a regional magistrates’ court on conviction of three counts of trafficking in persons for sexual purposes in contravention of s 71(6)(a) of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007. She was also sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment for living off the earnings of sexual exploitation of a child in contravention of s 17(5) of the same Act. It appeared that the appellant was not only instrumental in securing the presence of the complainants in South Africa, having lured them into the country from Mozambique, but was also responsible for keeping them in the country under threat of prosecution as illegal immigrants. They were forced, against their will, to perform sexual acts, on occasion up to eight times a day, on the instructions of the appellant. They were not allowed to leave the house where they were kept unless they were accompanied by the appellant. They received little food, no money, and very little clothing. On appeal,

Held, that the abuse of the young complainants was the result of an elaborate and organised criminal enterprise and the regional magistrate had correctly found that several persons had participated in the facilitation of the crimes. There was clearly an illicit infrastructure to transport the young women across the border into South Africa under escort and the mere existence of such infrastructure justified the inference that the crimes of which the appellant had been convicted, comprised but a fraction of the criminal activity the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its protocol aimed to address. The transport of the complainants to and from South Africa further demonstrated the involvement of corrupt government officials. These circumstances created a climate that lent itself to the commission of the crimes and collectively constituted compelling reasons for imposing harsh sentences in appropriate cases such as the present. (See [11].) The appeal was dismissed.


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