Found guilty of 24 of 29 charges he faced, Ediozi Odi was sentenced on September 18th to six life sentences plus an additional 129 years in prison for keeping three young girls, ages 13 and 14, hostage to work as sex slaves where they were given drugs and starved.
“This ruling shows that those found guilty of human trafficking and related crimes will be met with the harshest sentences possible,” said Acting Government Communication and Information Services (GCIS) Director General Phumla Williams in a statement. “Government remains committed to ensuring that all South Africans are and feel safe. Our country is at a place in time where the crimes against women and children are reaching alarming levels and government will not allow this atrocious behaviour to continue in South Africa."
Ediozi Odi is a NIgerian National that was accused of running a brothel out of his home in Springs which was disguised to look like a barber shop. He did not do this alone, but had help from Nomsa Hlalele and Luke Botha who also faced 20+ charges related to human trafficking.
From poorer families, the three girls recounted during the course of the trial how they had been recruited and lured to the home on promises of a better life.
Once at the home, they reported that their first lesson was how to smoke cocaine, or "rocks," which Nomsa Hlalele showed them. An expert testified before the court that after exposure, the girls were immediately hooked on the drug, and would do anything to get their hands on more.
Once they were high on drugs, Odi himself raped the girls “to teach them the tools of the trade” and initiate them.
The court heard of how the girls would be locked in a basement under the floor when the home was raided by police, and shown images of the unhygienic conditions that the girls were kept in. If not locked in the dungeon, the girls remained locked up inside the home for the duration of their stay.
The 14 year old was held captive for a year while the other two were able to escape after a week, when police were tipped off that Odi would be moving them to another location and conducted a successful raid on the premise.
Also heard in court testimony was the report that some of the local police had been bought off to turn a blind eye to the goings on at Odi's home. The judge, during sentencing, commended those authorities that took their jobs seriously.
The girls have been reunited with their families and Hlalele, who received a suspended sentence on drug charges, is reported to have given birth recently and is now drug free.