In the Media

Man denies using African 'witchcraft' to traffic children for prostitution

PUBLISHED September 17, 2012

Osezua Elvis Osolase, 42, is accused of 13 offences of trafficking, rape, false imprisonment and sexual activity with a child.

He allegedly cast 'spells' over his three victims, all originally from Nigeria, using juju magic rituals in order to stop them from running away.

It is also alleged to have sexually assaulted the girls - who are now aged 15, 17 and 18. It is believed he has many more victims.

Juju refers to traditional West African religions involving objects of superstition and witchcraft.

In one case, the court heard, Osolase took the 17-year-old-girl to a place of "witchcraft" in April last year and forced her to bathe using a red cloth and blood.

The girl then had her armpit hair, toe and finger nails cut. Blood was taken from her right hand before she was told the 'spell' would kill her if she tried to run away.

During the opening of the eight week trial today, Canterbury Crown Court heard the three girls were shipped to the UK from Nigeria in preparation for being sold as prostitutes in Italy.

Sara Ellis, prosecuting, said: "This case involves allegations in respect of three young Nigerian girls who were trafficked from Nigeria into the UK in order to traffic them out of the UK and to Europe for the purposes of prostitution.

"In this case the complainants were subjected to juju rituals in an effort to ensure that they would do as they were told, that they would not run away, that they would repay the defendant and that they would never reveal the truth about what really happened to them and the ordeals to which they were subjected for fear of death or serious harm.

"You will hear something about juju ceremonies during the trial and the very powerful effect that they can have on people like the complainants in this case."

The court heard Osolase, who lives with a German woman in Gravesend, Kent, had found his alleged 17-year-old victim begging on the streets of Nigeria.

The former security guard told her would take her to the UK to help her get an education.

Ms Ellis said: "He called himself 'Victor' and took her to a large house - a place she described as a - place of witchcraft'.

"There she was given what she described as 'native port', a mixture which looked like blood and a red cloth.

"She was told to use this liquid to bathe and to tie a cloth around herself after doing so.

"A man came and cut hair under her armpits and finger and toenails and blood from her right hand.

"She was told this was to ensure she did not run away and would repay Victor. She said it was an 'oath' and if she ran away the charm would find her.

"She was told that if she ran away or didn't pay that she would die. She believed it."

Ms Ellis told the court the 17-year-old was then given a passport, which had been lost by its genuine owner some years earlier, and flown to the UK and then on to Italy.

However, when she reached the airport she refused to go through customs and begged Italian officials for help, the court heard.

The prosecutor said the teenager was returned to Stansted Airport, Essex, where she eventually admitted to being Nigerian.

The same month the 15-year-old was alleged to have been brought to the UK and taken to Osolase's home where she claimed she was sexually abused.

Ms Ellis said that she was also taken along with the 17-year-old and sent to Italy again with a stolen passport.

In July the 18-year-old arrived in Britain and was locked inside a flat and told she was going to Italy to meet "her madam" and to work as a prostitute, the court heard.

The prosecution claimed that an investigation of Osolase's travelling in Europe revealed that the three were not his only victims.

The trial at Canterbury Crown Court is expected to last eight weeks and among the prosecution witnesses will be an expert in juju.