Five arrested after Ethiopian teens smuggled into SA allegedly held for ransom

Five Ethiopian nationals have been arrested and will be charged with human trafficking, kidnapping and extortion after smuggling three teens into the country and demanding tens of thousands of rand in ransom from their families.

Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha said the suspects were apprehended in Brixton and Mayfair, Johannesburg.

The teens, who are also from Ethiopia, were reportedly kidnapped over the weekend.

“The three teenagers were allegedly smuggled into the country and kept in Gauteng.Their parents, who are based in the North West, were then reportedly contacted with ransom demands of R50 000 per child for their release,” Ramovha said.

The suspects were traced by the Hawks and arrested on Thursday afternoon.

“The teenagers have been rescued and taken to a place of safety as investigations continue,” Ramovha said.

Additional charges could not be ruled out, he added.