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Beware of human traffickers

The Directorate of Priority Crimes, also known as the HAWKS, has warned South Africans to be aware of human traffickers, especially near the borders of neighbouring countries.

Mpumalanga is on the border of Swaziland and Mozambique which is creating a challenge for law enforcement.

HAWKS spokesperson Captain Dineo Sekgotodi said the number of human trafficking cases in Mpumalanga is alarming.  As a result the provincial wing of the HAWKS is conducting a widely spread campaign to inform the public about human trafficking near the borders.

“These campaigns include teaching communities about human trafficking and that it can occur at schools or near border posts. We investigate reported cases and arrest the culprits,” Captain Sekgotodi explained.

Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery. People are trafficked for financial gain that ranges from child labour and sexual exploitation to the removal of  body parts.

According to Captain Sekgotodi people who have albinism are often targeted and kidnapped for their body parts, especially children who may have impaired vision.

He said that unfortunately only a few cases of this nature are reported to the police because the community does not always know what to do. He urged South Africans to come forward with information about human trafficking, so that the perpetrators can be caught.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said human trafficking usually happens under false pretences or by force.

 Traffickers usually target unsuspecting and vulnerable people and deceive them via fraud, trickery, lies or scams.

“Anybody can be a victim of human trafficking, but women and children are mostly targeted due to their vulnerability to sexual exploitation,” said Brigadier Hlathi.

He also stressed that children with albinism are high risk.

“It is easy for children living with albinism to be spotted or targeted, especially in isolated areas.”

Brigadier Hlathi said the best way to protect your child is to ensure that they do not go to public places alone. 

“Ensure that your child always has someone guarding them. It is also important to avoid quiet and deserted roads.”

Play your part and report any incidents and the disappearance of any person, including those with albinism, to any of these numbers:

Crime Stop: 08600 10111

Toll free: 086 727 2017

Human trafficking resource line: 0800 222 777