SA a haven for hu­man traf­fick­ing

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - VIR­GI­LATTE GWANGWA

SOUTH Africa was re­garded as the ma­jor source, tran­sit and des­ti­na­tion coun­try for men, women, and chil­dren des­tined for forced labour and sex traf­fick­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to UN Of­fice on Drugs and Crime South African re­gional rep­re­sen­ta­tive Zhul­syz Ak­i­sheva, this was due to peo­ple who mi­grated to the coun­try to “bet­ter their lives”.

“Des­per­a­tion for suc­cess makes it eas­ier for traf­fick­ers to lure their vic­tims and turn them into sex work­ers,” she said.

This was re­vealed at a UN Of­fice work­shop on the pre­ven­tion and com­bat­ing of traf­fick­ing in per­sons held in Pre­to­ria yes­ter­day.

Deputy Min­is­ter of Jus­tice John Jef­fery said the traf­fick­ers tar­geted those mostly in need of jobs, es­pe­cially in the ru­ral ar­eas.

He told those gath­ered that they often re­cruited young peo­ple, tak­ing their iden­tity doc­u­ments and forc­ing them into be­ing sex work­ers.

Jef­fery said most chil­dren were re­cruited from poor ru­ral ar­eas to ur­ban cen­tres, such as Joburg, Cape Town, Dur­ban and Bloem­fontein.

“At these places, girls are sub­jected to sex traf­fick­ing and do­mes­tic servi­tude, while boys are forced to work in street vend­ing, food ser­vice, beg­ging, crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties and agri­cul­ture.

“Many chil­dren, in­clud­ing those with dis­abil­i­ties, are ex­ploited in forced beg­ging. Lo­cal crim­i­nal rings or­gan­ise child sex traf­fick­ing,” Jef­fery said.

“The US State De­part­ment’s 2016 Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons re­port states that South Africans con­sti­tute the largest num­ber of vic­tims within the coun­try.

“And re­search showed that traf­fick­ing in per­sons was still preva­lent and a highly un­der-re­ported crime,” he said.

Other find­ings showed that crime syn­di­cates re­cruited South African women to Europe and Asia, where they were forced into pros­ti­tu­tion, do­mes­tic ser­vice or drug smug­gling.

The deputy min­is­ter said, how­ever, that the coun­try had launched a co-op­er­a­tion pro­gramme to com­bat traf­fick­ing in per­sons and smug­gling of mi­grants un­der the UN Of­fice.

De­spite the des­per­a­tion for suc­cess, another as­pect for traf­fick­ing was said to be “lover-boy syn­drome” – where girls were not aware that they were be­ing groomed to be drug ad­dicts and later sex work­ers.

Ca­rina Coet­zee of the Na­tional Prose­cut­ing Author­ity told the meet­ing: “Most girls don’t un­der­stand that they are be­ing traf­ficked be­cause they think the traf­ficker is their boyfriend.”

The work­shop was held to can­vass sup­port and at­tain the har­mon­i­sa­tion of train­ing pro­grammes on com­bat­ing traf­fick­ing in per­sons to en­sure an ef­fec­tive and co-or­di­nated re­sponse to stake­hold­ers in­volved.

The work­shop con­tin­ues to­day.

Most chil­dren are re­cruited from poor ru­ral ar­eas

PIC­TURE: BON­GANI SHILUBANE

WORK­SHOP: Deputy Min­is­ter of Jus­tice and Con­sti­tu­tional De­vel­op­ment John Jef­fery ad­dresses del­e­gates dur­ing a UN work­shop on hu­man traf­fick­ing at the Sher­a­ton Ho­tel in Pre­to­ria yes­ter­day.

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