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Centre helps victims of human trafficking from neighbouring countries

Mandla Khoza Freelance journalist
Image: 123RF/tinnakornlek.

Having started as a response to help displaced women who were victims of the Mozambican civil war many years ago, Masisukumeni Women's Crisis Centre in Tonga near Komatipoort in Mpumalanga is a safe space for  abused women. 

Situated opposite the Tonga police station which is less than 30km to Mozambique and the Kingdom of Eswatini, the centre caters for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking among other forms of abuse against women.

Rachel Nkosi started the centre in 1994 and it now boasts paralegal officers, counsellors and caregivers and also houses victims and supports them through their experiences. 

According to programme manager Annah Nyambi, the centre survives on donations and funding from the provincial department of social development, which helps it with awareness programmes and to feed victims.

“You will understand that we are in a rural area populated with some people from the Kingdom of Eswatini and Mozambique. When the centre was started by Rachel Nkosi it was a response to women who have been displaced and some found themselves abused by the then civil war of Mozambique. So as time went on South African woman had to be catered for as abuse cases grew even here. 

“We found that some have been trafficked in promise for jobs and when they get here they are made wives and most of them are very young,” said Nyambi.

She said donations help them accommodate some of the victims and they also help them by involving police to investigate their cases.

She said some of the challenges they face are families who pressurise victims to drop charges they have opened against perpetrators. 

“Cases of that nature are with orphans mostly as they find out that if they can't drop the cases they will not have places to stay because families will victimise them if they open a case against their guardian,” said Nyambi. 

She said some women are being sold for as little as R500 after being trafficked. 

“There was a case where a 15-year-old girl from Mozambique was sold for R500 to an over 50-year-old man. We managed to deal with that case and the police arrested that man and the seller and as we speak the girl is back with her family in Mozambique after being taken from home on a promise for a job here,” said Nyambi.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brig Selvy Mohlala said they are happy with their relationship with the centre and other GBV centres in the province. 

“Sometimes victims would speak to women they trust to get empowered and by the time they come to the police to report a case they already know what to do to get justice. What we have also done is to make our police stations victim-friendly where we also house those who fear to go back to their homes where they are being abused,” said Mohlala.

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