SA gets tough on human trafficking

Pretoria - Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has tightened the national response to trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants in South Africa by partnering with the UN Office of Drugs and Crime.

Gigaba said human trafficking and smuggling of migrants often led to injury and death. “It leads to exploitation, sexual abuse, forced marriage and even slavery,” he said during the launch in Pretoria of the global action to prevent the scourge.

The Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, launches the global action programme to prevent and address trafficking and the smuggling of migrants as Aldo Demoz, the deputy executive director of the UN Office for Drugs and Crime, listens. Picture: Masi Losi. Credit: Independent Media

The minister also lamented the heinous crimes committed on the victims and the suffering they were forced to endure.

He said that in addition to the immense human cost, these undermined the country’s legal and social fabric.

“They undermine and evade our law enforcement, criminal justice, immigration systems and social welfare systems,” he said.

Gigaba said another disturbing fact was that there seemed to be other countries which did not take these crimes serious, especially when they involved the trafficking of women and children.

The minister also reflected on reasons why traffickers take advantage of vulnerable individuals, especially women and children.

He said heartless transnational criminal elements sought to profit from people’s need for employment, safety and a better life, especially among women and children.

They also pounced on vulnerable people by exploiting weak legal frameworks and under-resourced immigration and criminal justice systems in some countries, he said.

Gigaba said they sought to take advantage of law enforcement regimes which were too weak and slow to adapt to this growing form of organised crime.

Gauteng High Court Judge President Dunstan Mlambo said the main aim of the partnership was to bolster relationships in the fight against trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants in South Africa.

Judge Mlambo also said they had a judiciary case management to focus on cases of human trafficking.

The country had a Constitution that guaranteed dignity and justice for all and afforded victims the opportunity for justice, he added.

National Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Shaun Abrahams said they had trained approximately 350 prosecutors to look into trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants. Trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants was the third largest illegal practice in the world, he said.