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BUSI KHESWA | Let’s unite and fight against human trafficking in SA

Education and alleviation of poverty key weapons in fight

Stock photo.
Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/tinnakornlek.

The number of people trapped in human trafficking more than doubled in the 2021-22 financial year in SA, according to the latest Trafficking in Persons (TIP) annual report.

From April 2021 to March 2022, 83 people were trafficked compared with 16 people the previous year. Trafficking thrives in communities where there is instability. Factors such as a lack of food, water, education and infrastructure all create the vulnerability needed for traffickers to exploit the most vulnerable. Such communities are valuable to traffickers and include children.

Trafficked victims are robbed not only of the fruit of their labour but also of all the rights and freedoms. The inhumanity of the abuse, the violent and destructive nature of the crime, and the sheer volume of the problem lead us to believe human trafficking is one of the greatest injustices in the world today. It compares to slavery.

The Gauteng department of social development is mandated to assist victims of trafficking. To date, it has been able to fulfil the following:

  • Identification and protection of victims
  • Provide safe care (temporary and long term) for victims
  • Accreditation of shelters
  • Assessment of victims •
  • Monitoring and evaluation of service delivery
  • Training and capacity building
  • Prevention, education & awareness 

This week, the government heightens efforts in the prevention, education and awareness in communities where all social ill prevail, particularly in those that might breed human trafficking. Education is key in eradicating human trafficking. People must be aware of the scourge so that they can report suspicious activities.

This kind of crime is a complex area, which includes a range of issues such as migration, organised crime, criminal syndicates, drug cartels and exploitation. Victims are taken from the area to another street for slavery as domestic workers, are not allowed freedom of movement, they stay in one place where they perform domestic duties like cleaning the house and taking care of babies, victims do all these without being paid and under strict and sometimes draconian supervision.

Reports also indicate that when these victims have been transported, their belongings such as identity documents are taken from them. This is because traffickers want to control and track their victims.

The government calls on all to assist in curbing this heinous crime by identifying these three elements that are observed in acts of human trafficking.

  • There must be an act – any person who delivers, recruit, transports, transfers, harbours, sells, exchanges, leases, or receives another person within or across the South African boarders can be considered as participant to this type of crime.
  • There must also be means of a threat of harm, the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, there must be abuse of vulnerability, fraud, deception, abduction, kidnapping, the abuse of power, direct and in direct giving or receiving of payments or benefits to obtain the consent of a person having control or authority over another person, compensation, rewards, benefits, or any other advantage aimed at either the person or an immediate family member of that person or any other person in close relationship to that person.
  • Purpose – the purpose of human trafficking is monetary gain, perpetrators of this kind of crime do this to gain profit.

It is the responsibility of everyone to report human trafficking. The TIP Act 7/2013 allows that even if we suspect, we have an obligation to report and allow matters to be investigated.

  • Report any suspicious activities related to human trafficking to local SAPS and department of social development's local, regional and provincial offices.
  • National Human Trafficking resource line 0800-222-777. People can also report anonymously.
  • GBV Command Centre: 0800-428-428

• Kheswa works for the Gauteng department of social development

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