Fears of human trafficking grip KZN towns

WIDESPREAD panic has gripped KwaZulu-Natal as parents are warned that children could be snapped up by human traffickers.

The rumours are being fanned by emails stating that human traffickers will descend on our shores ahead of the Soccer World Cup.

While the police have consistently denied human trafficking allegations an incident that took place in Eshowe, northern KwaZulu-Natal last week has prompted an investigation.

SAPS spokesperson Vincent Mdunge says there was no need for panic.

"There have been no incidents like this besides the incident in Eshowe last week, where two men went to a rural town school and asked for one of the girls," Mdunge says.

"They told the principal they were there to collect a child. The principal refused to let the child go and the men drove off.

"Later the girl's mother arrived and said she had no knowledge of people coming to fetch her child."

Mdunge says the police conducted a thorough investigation into the incident.

Childline KwaZulu-Natal director Linda Naidoo says their hotline was inundated with calls about the Eshowe incident.

"While there is paranoia among people about human trafficking, we can confirm that no incidents occurred," she says.

Naidoo says: "All incidents must be reported to the police."

Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe recently announced a new bill aimed at combating human and child trafficking in the country.

Radebe says the legislation is to fulfil our international obligations.

The bill, once it comes into effect, will provide for the prosecution of persons involved in trafficking and also for appropriate sentences to be imposed.

People are trafficked mainly for sexual exploitation and forced labour.