In a twist of fate, the two Nigerian pimps who ran a brothel in Arcadia, Pretoria, were sentenced in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, in a case which is said to be a first in this division.
Obioma Benjamin Abba, 32 was sentenced to an effective 12 years imprisonment, while his brother and the mastermind, Chinedu Justine Obasi, 38, was sentenced to an effective 18 years imprisonment.
Although the legislature called for life imprisonment in cases where people are convicted of human trafficking, Judge Ronel Tolmay found that there were mitigating factors in this case. It included that the brothers were first offenders and that they had spent more than two years in jail, awaiting trial.
The judge also said although the two women who worked as prostitutes for the brothers were exposed to a lot of trauma, they were already in the sex trade and hooked on drugs when they were recruited by the brothers.
But the judge, on the other hand, said the brothers kept the women captive in the flat in Arcadia, from where they had to work as prostitutes.
Judge Tolmay said the fact that a life sentence was mandatory in these cases if there were no mitigating factors, proved how adamant the legislator is to eradicate crimes of human trafficking.
Two prostitutes earlier told the court of their harrowing life on the streets, while their pimps kept them hooked on drugs.
Both had turned a new leaf, although they told the court they still got nightmares and flashbacks from their life on the streets.
It was extremely difficult for the two women to break away from the life of drugs and prostitution. But after the arrest of the brothers, the two said they dearly wanted to turn their lives around and come clean with their family.
Both had been rehabilitated from drugs and they have obtained good jobs. But during the trial, they were under the state’s witness protection plan for their own safety.
They also could not face their pimps in court as they were too afraid. They testified about their dark lives on the streets via closed-circuit television from an adjacent room.
One of the former victims, who was at court on Tuesday, is heavily pregnant and has found new love. She is expected to give birth next month.