No place for en­slave­ment

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

SLAV­ERY isn’t some­thing that ex­ists only in dusty history books or racy nov­els, it’s a re­al­ity for peo­ple taken by force on the con­ti­nent and made to work, of­ten with­out pay and un­der ap­palling cir­cum­stances. Then there are those lured un­der false pre­tences and forced into the sex in­dus­try.

What­ever the case, the end­ing is al­most al­ways bad. It’s dif­fi­cult for these 21st-cen­tury slaves to es­cape the tyranny they find them­selves in, far from home, pen­ni­less and with­out proper pa­pers.

For one South African woman, though, there has been a happy end­ing. She was res­cued in a multi­na­tional anti-crime op­er­a­tion that in­cluded our Hawks and In­ter­pol, in Malaysia.

Princess Mahlangu had gone there un­der the pre­text of be­com­ing a model, tak­ing part in beauty pageants and win­ing huge prizes, in­clud­ing cash. In­stead she and 13 other women from as far afield as the US, Bar­ba­dos, the Philip­pines and Thai­land found them­selves in Malaysia.

When she re­alised some­thing was un­to­ward, she im­me­di­ately con­tacted a friend back home. The alarm was raised and she was snatched from the claws of hu­man traf­fick­ers.

It’s a sin­gle suc­cess story in what is of­ten a tor­rent of hor­ror sto­ries, all un­fold­ing in­no­cently in front of our eyes in the most un­likely of places – like Bloem­fontein in this in­stance.

There were many rea­sons why Mahlangu didn’t end up lost and en­slaved far from home, chief among them her fore­sight to do research and for­mu­late a back-up plan should some­thing go wrong. Far too many oth­ers sim­ply don’t. They refuse to look a gift horse in the mouth, they are de­ter­mined to ig­nore the old adage that if it sounds too good to be true, it usu­ally is.

Our po­lice also de­serve praise for the alacrity in which they acted, in tan­dem with their in­ter­na­tional coun­ter­parts.

The only real so­lu­tion is, as Po­lice Min­is­ter Fikile Mbalula al­luded, eter­nal vig­i­lance. We need to root out the re­cruiters here at home, we need to clamp down on the traf­fick­ers and free the peo­ple who have been en­slaved here.

There can never be a place for slav­ery of any sort in our coun­try and nei­ther should we ever tol­er­ate it.

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