First child trafficking case in court

Namhla Tshisela

Namhla Tshisela

A Mozambican woman charged with trafficking children for sexual exploitation and fraud appeared in the Pretoria magistrates' court yesterday.

This is the first case brought to court in South Africa since provisions governing human trafficking in the law came into effect in January.

"Before this there was no law in South Africa that criminalised trafficking," said Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (RAPCAN) director Cheryl Frank.

Frank said a provision under the Children's Act prohibited child trafficking and considered it a serious offence that would warrant harsh punishment.

She said the law now provided victims access to assistance from various government departments.

Aldina dos Santos, 28, was arrested at a brothel in Moreleta Park on February 13.

Two 15-year-old girls, who were used as sex slaves, were rescued from the brothel house and taken to a place of safety.

Dos Santos was also found in possession of fraudulent passports and remains in police custody.

The case was postponed to June 18 to allow for the appointment of a prosecutor who was familiar with the child trafficking laws.

Last month the Mozambican parliament approved an anti-human trafficking bill, which will enable the prosecution of convicted offenders.

Under the new law, a convicted human trafficker can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

Mariam Khokhar of the International Organisation for Migration's counter-trafficking unit, said women and children were most vulnerable to trafficking.

She said that victims fell prey to promises of employment and a better life in host countries but were often subjected to sexual exploitation, forced labour and domestic servitude.