The government has welcomed the Gauteng High Court’s ruling that saw human trafficker Ediozi Ozi being handed six life sentences and 129 years in prison.

Ozi was convicted on charges relating to human trafficking after keeping three young girls as sex slaves.

In a statement released on Thursday, the Government Communication and Information System’s acting director-general, Phumla Williams, said the landmark ruling showed that those found guilty of human trafficking and similar crimes would receive “the harshest sentences possible”.

“The 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 the government will not allow this atrocious behaviour to continue in South Africa.

“This scourge of abuse, violence, femicide and human trafficking cannot go unchallenged and requires every citizen and organisation to play their role to create a safer place for all,” Williams said.

A global issue, human trafficking is often referred to as modern-day slavery.

Through legislation, policies and international and regional measures, Williams said, the government was committed to ensuring that children were safe.

Recently, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an emergency plan to tackle these issues, which included strengthening existing measures as well as implementing interventions in five areas.

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These areas include the prevention of gender-based violence, strengthening the criminal justice system, enhancing the legal and policy framework, ensuring adequate care, support and healing for victims and empowering women in South Africa.

This, Williams said, would aid in addressing the crisis of gender-based violence in South Africa.

“Communities are advised to be vigilant about their surroundings and report any strange behaviour by people in their neighbourhood. We are appealing to citizens to refrain from causing harm to children. We can and must do more to protect the lives of our children,” she said.

Members of the public can call Crime Stop on 08600 10111 anonymously to report criminal activities.

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