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News24.com | The 50 Ethiopian nationals rescued in Johannesburg were kidnapped for money - police

The house where around 50 boys were found.

The house where around 50 boys were found.

Gauteng police applauded Johannesburg-based undercover officers, who rescued 50 Ethiopian nationals from a house in Zakariyya Park, near Lenasia, in Gauteng.

Initially, undercover officers believed the foreigners were trafficked into the country. It subsequently emerged they had been kidnapped.

"They were brought into South Africa to be reunited with their families living in the country. On their arrival, the person who transported them demanded money from their families before release," said police spokesperson Brigadier Brenda Muridili.

Some of the visibly shaken men were found barefoot in the house on Thursday night. The house they were kept in didn't have electricity.

READ | Suspect held as police rescue more than 50 young men from home in Joburg

They could not speak any South African language.

Officers descended on the home after an intelligence-driven tip-off.

During the raid, some of the men were found crammed inside the rented three-bedroom house. Upon seeing the police, others hid inside the ceiling. 

Gauteng police said the Ethiopian nationals, aged between 12 and 50, were kidnapped and kept against their will.

It is not known how and when the foreign nationals arrived in the country.

"They are currently waiting to be processed by Home Affairs officials. Some of their families have been notified," said Muridili.

Muridili said officers arrested a 49-year-old on kidnapping charges, who is expected to appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Monday.