legislation for human trafficking

SOUTH AFRICA will soon pass specific legislation to counter human trafficking.

The Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill was published for comment in May and is expected to be concluded by the end of this month.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development says South Africa lacks a proper system to deal with human trafficking.

Addressing an international conference themed "The implications of implementing laws and strategies to combat human trafficking in Africa through optimising regional and international relationships" in Johannesburg yesterday, the National Prosecuting Authority's acting director Advocate Mokotedi Mpshe referred to the practice as "modern-day slavery".

"Slavery has once again resurfaced in the human race in the form of human trafficking.

"The question which must be answered is whether societies have ever conquered slavery or if it has always been in existence, changing its form and shape in accordance with the dictates of its drivers," Mpshe said.

An investigation conducted by the South African Law Reform Commission shows that cases of human trafficking cannot be recorded as such because there is no specific domestic legislation on this. There are also no reliable statistics regarding the people trafficked into SA every day.

Human traffickers can be charged under the Sexual Offences Amendment Act, which criminalises only if the victims were trafficked and used for sexual exploitation. Where there are children involved the Children's Act comes into effect.

Where there is no sexual exploitation or children involved, charges are normally kidnapping, common assault, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, extortion, attempted murder or murder, if committed.

The three-day conference, held at the Rosebank Hotel is expected to address, among other things, a situation analysis of human trafficking on the continent.

Participating countries include Zimbabwe, Angola, Cape Verde, DRC, Egypt, Malawi, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique and SA.