'SA plays key role in human trade'

South Africa is being used as a destination and transit point as well as a source of human trafficking, the International Association of Women Judges heard at a conference in Boksburg yesterday.

South Africa is being used as a destination and transit point as well as a source of human trafficking, the International Association of Women Judges heard at a conference in Boksburg yesterday.

Speaking on behalf of Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla, Special Director of Public Prosecutions Thoko Majokweni, said "Malawian women are sold by Nigerian syndicates to Germany, Italy and Belgium, and this all happens via South Africa.

"South Africans themselves are being trafficked to Hong Kong and Macau [in China]. Thai women are debt-bonded in Brussels, in Johannesburg, and KwaZulu-Natal, especially in port areas."

Majokweni said Chinese traffickers were using Johannesburg as a transit point for Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique.

She said Russian and Bulgarian women were exploited in private business clubs. Various legislative reforms were, however, under way in South Africa to stem the tide of trafficking, said Majokweni.

She said South Africans should remember that human trafficking was new in terms of recognition but not in terms of existence.

"You look and see the life of Saartjie Baartman, who was sold into slavery in France, paraded naked for men to pleasure themselves, and even in death didn't get any dignity because she was torn into little parts. Even her private parts were exhibited in a museum in France," Majokweni said.

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