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What you should know about human trafficking

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

Gender-based violence

Modern-day slavery, also known as human trafficking, is one of the world’s fastest-growing crimes.

The trafficking of people is done in various ways, according to anti-trafficking organisation Abolitionists 21 (A21).

It says that:

  • About 43.4 percent of trafficking victims are captured through job scams.
  • Family members traffic 11.2 percent of the victims.
  • 9.6 percent involves Loverboy trafficking (when people are groomed into trusting their trafficker).
  • Friends trick and sell 8.6 percent of trafficked people.
  • 5.6 percent of trafficked people are abducted.
  • Immigration is used in 2.6 percent of cases.
  • 1.2 percent of trafficked people fall for false saviours.

According to the 2018/19 crime statistics, trafficking was thought to be behind at least 11 cases of kidnapping in South Africa.

Traffickers tend to target unemployed people who are looking for opportunities to improve their life conditions and that of their children.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ&CD) said trafficked children are often sexually abused, used for forced labour or for their body parts.

Help prevent human trafficking

According to the department, there are several ways that communities can protect themselves, including:

  • Contacting the Department of Labour in your area to validate job offers, particularly those outside your province or the country. Any suspicious conduct by prospective employers or their agents must be reported to the police.
  • Being wary of people – both men and women – who say they have job opportunities that promise a lot of money in a short space of time.
  • Teaching your children to be careful of adults who try to befriend them, whether in person, through a cell phone or Internet chatrooms.
  • Reporting places where you suspect trafficked people are kept (for example, brothels, farms, factories and shebeens) to the local authorities and the media.

The DOJ&CD urged communities to be on the lookout for victims of human trafficking so that help can be sought for them. It said victims are often unable to speak the local language, appear to be trapped in their job or the place they stay, may have bruises and other signs of physical abuse and do not have identification documents.

Suspected human  trafficking can be reported to the police at 08600 10 111 or the National Human Trafficking Hotline by calling 0800 222 777.