An intelligence-driven operation led by a collaboration between the South African police and Home Affairs officials led to the discovery of 50 Ethiopian nationals who were allegedly held against their will at a property in Zacharia Park, Lenasia.
Lenasia house held 50 kidnapped Ethiopians
It is still unclear, at this stage, how 50 foreign nationals, aged between 12 and 50, managed to make it into South Africa without raising alarm at customs, but from what we understand, the victims were brought into the country to be reunited with their respective families.
According to police spokesperson Brigadier Brenda Muridili, who spoke to IOL News, a tip-off came into Johannesburg’s central police station about a house in Zacharia Park that housed foreign nationals who were being held against their will.
A plan was put in place and on Thursday evening, the hostage rescue operation was executed without harm. All victims were extracted from the Lenasia house and Brig. Muridili confirmed that the next phase of the rescue mission is to have each foreign national processed by the Department of Home Affairs.
It is unclear, at this juncture, if the Ethiopians will be reunited with their respective families.
What we know about the suspect
Muridili confirmed that investigations into the alleged kidnapping incident are still ongoing and thus far, one suspect has been arrested.
“It is reported that these 50 people were brought into South Africa to be reunited with their families living in the country, but on arrival the person who transported them demanded money from their families before their release,” the police spokesperson revealed.
The unidentified male has been held in custody until his first court appearance which is scheduled for Monday 18 October 2021 at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court.
Police would not be baited into revealing any further information on the case which is still ongoing to ascertain if any other role players were involved in the alleged kidnapping.
The video footage below shows the moment authorities made their way into the Lenasia house to save the victims.
#HumanTrafficking A police vehicle reversing into the home where over 50 young men allegedly trafficked from Eastern Africa were rescued in Zakarriya Park. The owner of the house is nowhere to be found @TeamNews24 pic.twitter.com/mtxoROrr7f— ntwaagae Seleka (@ntwaagae) October 14, 2021