South African Court Sentences 2 Nigerian Brothel Operators to Life for Human Trafficking, Other

South African Court Sentences 2 Nigerian Brothel Operators to Life for Human Trafficking, Other

  • The Pretoria High Court sentenced Jude Ikenna Ijegulu to four life terms plus 18 years for human trafficking and sexual violence, while his accomplice Elizabeth Botes received 40 years
  • They ran a brothel in Centurion, South Africa, forcing trafficked women into prostitution and drug abuse
  • The victims' testimonies were pivotal in the case, leading to the harsh sentences and sparking public calls for stricter immigration laws and societal action against sex trafficking

The Pretoria High Court has handed down four life sentences along with an additional 18 years imprisonment to Jude Ikenna Ijegulu for his involvement in human trafficking and forced sexual intercourse.

His accomplice, Elizabeth Botes, was sentenced to 40 years in prison, signalling a strong message against such heinous crimes in South Africa.

Brothel owners operating in Centurion jailed for life
Hawks addressed the human trafficking problem in Gauteng after they found undocumented foreigners in a Centurion home. Image for illustration purposes alone. Credit: Getty
Source: Getty Images

Details of the human trafficking case

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The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) disclosed the details of Ijegulu's and Botes' criminal activities.

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The pair operated a brothel in Centurion, where they trafficked women, subjected them to drug abuse, and forced them into prostitution.

NPA spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana revealed that the victims were kept captive between November 2016 and September 2017, enduring repeated sexual assaults and physical abuse.

Victims' ordeal at the hands of Nigerian operators

According to IOL, the first victim, a 26-year-old woman, was fetched from Rustenburg and drugged by unknown Nigerian nationals before being brought to the brothel.

On their way, Ijegulu stopped at a friend’s house and violently had a carnal knowledge of her.

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In another incident, a 22-year-old woman was bought from another Nigerian national under the pretence of employment as a housekeeper but was instead forced into the brothel and abused.

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Both women eventually managed to escape in September 2017 and found refuge with an NGO specialising in helping trafficked individuals.

Their testimonies were crucial in building the case against Ijegulu and Botes.

The court’s decision

During the trial, Ijegulu and Botes pleaded not guilty.

Ijegulu's defence argued for leniency, citing his status as a first offender and claiming that the victims were kept in a "homely environment."

Botes, on the other hand, claimed she was coerced into participating due to her drug addiction and trauma inflicted by Ijegulu.

However, Advocates Adina Van Deventer and Alicia Ross highlighted the absence of remorse from both accused.

They argued that Ijegulu manipulated and controlled the victims through drug dependency, while Botes actively participated in the exploitation, taking the earnings from the brothel's operations.

Judge Porti Phalane concurred with the prosecution, emphasizing the severity and cruelty of the crimes.

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"Ijegulu not only violated the Human Trafficking Act but also enslaved the victims, subjecting them to unimaginable suffering."

She acknowledged Botes' coerced involvement but still imposed a substantial sentence.

South Africans call for stricter immigration laws

The sentencing has sparked significant public discourse.

@marangdream expressed outrage, stating:

"Trafficking women, drugging & forcing them into prostitution, then pleading for a light sentence on the basis that you ‘provided a homely environment’... Put them both in jail! STAT!"

@Nanization, called for societal action against such businesses, emphasising the need to eliminate the demand for sex trafficking:

"To stop this kind of thing, we as South Africans must stop buying and supporting this kind of business. Stop buying makgošha so that this kind of business doesn't exist. They flourish because there is market."

@MdloziniSifiso alluded some SA women play a part in this:

"I am sure he had a South African girlfriend assisting him in luring these young girls; phela, we live amongst Trojan horses who sacrifice us for the sake of love and expensive weave."

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ICPC detains TETFund director

Earlier, reported that the ICPC detained Gloria Olotu, the director of finance and accounts of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).

The decision of the ICPC to detain Olotu follows a report about the controversial award of an N3.8 billion contract by the TETFund.

Olotu Kolapo Okunola, the director of human resources and general administration at TETFund; and Joseph Odo, the agency’s director of information communication technology (ICT); were at the ICPC office on Thursday, April 25, to answer questions on some of the allegations contained in the report.

Proofread by Kola Muhammed, journalist and copyeditor at


Ibrahim Sofiyullaha avatar

Ibrahim Sofiyullaha (Editorial Assistant) Editorial Assistant at specialising in covering politics and current affairs news. Email: