Centre helps fight child trafficking

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zambian boy trafficked INLSA Social worker Debbie Bloom with a Zambian boy who was trafficked to South Africa. He has a new home at The Homestead. Picture: David Ritchie

Cape Town - Khayelitsha’s recently opened centre for street kids has provided a home both for local children and those who end up on the streets of Cape Town as victims of human trafficking.

A 15-year-old is one of the 75 boys living at The Homestead’s Hilary House after arriving from Zambia under the false pretence that he was going to be offered a better life after joining an organisation pretending to run a Boy Scouts group.

But he ended up working all day on farms for a piece of bread and some water at the end of the day.

He and other boys worked for six months on different farms between Zambia and South Africa before deciding to run away. He eventually made his way to Cape Town.

Debbie Bloom, a social worker at The Homestead, said the boy arrived with another boy who also ran away.

Bloom said it was important not to show the faces of the two boys since someone might recognise them and report them to the trafficker.

He said the boys were found by a security guard on the street. He helped them and through the Department of Social Development, managed to get them to The Homestead.

The boys had not only been subjected to child labour, but also physical and other abuse, and they showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

One of them was now attending school.

Bloom said that through NGO International Organisation for Migration (IOM) they managed to get hold of his mother but he chose to stay in Cape Town because of the poverty back home.

According to the IOM, as many as 800 000 people may be trafficked across borders every year, with many more trafficked within the borders of their own countries.

Gaone Dixon, IOM South Africa spokesman, said while it was hard to make contact with the families of trafficking victims, in 2011 they managed to reunite 500 people with their families, including 36 children.

Dixon said most of them were from Burundi and Zimbabwe.

He said Musina in Limpopo had the biggest problem.

In March 2010, the National Prosecuting Authority issued a report called Tsireledzani: Understanding the Dimensions of Human Trafficking in Southern Africa.

This found South Africa to be a destination country for long-distance flows of people (mainly women) trafficked from East Asia and South Asia, Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

They also found South Africa’s neighbours supplied most of the victims for prostitution, as domestics, forced labour, for drug trafficking and criminal activity.

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Cape Argus

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