The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has sentenced two brothers to more than a decade behind bars for human trafficking after they exploited two women into sex work.
Judge Ronel Tolmay handed down a 12-year sentence to Obioma Benjamin Abba and an 18-year sentence to his co-accused Chinedu Justine Obasi on Tuesday, after they were found guilty on two charges of human trafficking in 2017.
Obasi was also found guilty of contravening the immigration law, as he was not in the country legally.
The court heard that Abba and Obasi had recruited the two women to work for them as sex workers, fed them drugs, and held them captive in a flat in Arcadia, Pretoria.
Tolmay said that both the victims, who were not identified, had suffered emotional and psychological trauma at the hands of their captors.
"[The one victim] still suffers from nightmares, and fears to reconnect with her family because they might not accept that she was a sex worker," Tolmay said.
The second victim was not capable of living a normal life and kept reliving her experiences of when she was trafficked.
During the sentencing, Tolmay said the prescribed minimum sentence for human trafficking is life imprisonment, but that she had deviated from this prescription, because the facts of the case did not justify a life sentence.
She added that the psychological damage experienced by the victims could not be entirely attributed to Abba and Obasi, as both women were already addicted to drugs and working as sex workers before they were trafficked by the accused.
"Both victims came from a difficult socio-economic background and were already addicted to drugs," said Tolmay.
"Their addiction made them easy prey for the accused."
Tolmay also explained that Obasi had been handed a heavier sentence because he had contravened immigration laws and because he played a more prominent role in the trafficking of the victims.
"Accused two rented the flat from which the women worked and were held captive. He received the money from the sex work and provided the drugs."
She added that Obasi also physically assaulted both women.
One of the victims who was present in court during the sentencing, told media that she was finally free. She added that although she was happy with the sentences, she had expected more.