Police Minister Fikile Mbalula. (Deaan Vivier, Gallo Images, Beeld)
Johannesburg – Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has warned young people not to trust the internet when would-be employers propose opportunities over social media.
Mbalula held a joint press conference at OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday, along with acting Hawks head Yolisa Matakata following the return home of Princess Mahlangu, who fell victim to a human trafficking scam.
He told the media that Facebook and the internet played a key role in Mahlangu being lured to Malaysia under the false impression that she would take part in a model competition.
“We are very delighted to welcome her back home safely… I am happy to say our girl is back home,” Mbalula said.
He said that one victim is one too many. It shouldn’t take the abduction of 200 girls for people to pay attention, and warned others of the dangers of unverified social media accounts.
“To our young people, girls and boys, be circumspect and reduce their trust on the internet, as not every website or social media account is exactly what it portrays itself to be.
“Verify and do not trust; inform an adult and tell a friend.”
READ: South African woman rescued from sex-trafficking ring in Malaysia
Mbalula stressed that Mahlangu should not be re-victimised through the media after returning home.
He called on anyone with information on other bogus beauty contests to give information to the police.
Mbalula told eNCA’s Karyn Maughan afterward that the police will continue in the vain of treating all alerts of violence against women seriously until proven otherwise.
He also dismissed suggestions by Mahlangu’s former modelling agency that she could be making the story up, saying the law has to conduct investigations of this kind seriously.
He considered her testimony and the evidence valid.
Mbalula had learnt of Mahlangu’s predicament on Wednesday July 26, and worked hard with South Africa’s embassy in Malaysia to return her home safely.
She and 14 other women were rescued in an operation conducted with the assistance of Interpol, the Malaysian Police, the Hawks and the South African Ministry of Police.
“My greatest concern was the South African and having the rest of these innocent young women rescued is fantastic – a good way to end the week,” he said on Friday, July 28.