Child trafficking: soccer scam leaves five youths stranded

The Western Cape Department of Social Development on Wednesday warned parents to be aware of child traffickers using deceptive means to potentially abduct and traffic children. Ajax Cape Town also warned parents of a fake recruitment drive.

The warnings come after department took in five young boys from KwaZulu-Natal‚ who had been recruited and deceived into travelling to Cape Town under the impression of having secured places at a top soccer club’s training academy.

Four of the boys are under 18 years of age‚ and the fifth is 19 years old. The Department has placed the minors in a Child and Youth Care Centre‚ and the older youth is being assisted with shelter and care by the Department’s human trafficking unit‚ pending arrangements for their safe return home.

“This situation will thankfully have a positive outcome as the boys evaded being exploited by the scammers who lured them from their homes‚” said provincial Social Development minister Albert Fritz.

“The department has viewed this incident in a serious light‚ and our social workers will continue to investigate the circumstances around this case.”

The Ajax Cape Town football club said in a statement on its website: “There have been unfortunate events of continuous fraudulent activity with promises being made to young players of the possibility to attend trials at Ajax Cape Town’s Youth Academy for a certain fee.

“Under no circumstances would we ask for money from anyone to come on a trial at our youth academy.”

The club said it was working with the South African Police Service (SAPS).

“Cases from as far as the North West Province have been reported to their local SAPS departments‚ which is alarming for the club.”


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