Cape Town - On World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the Western Cape Department of Social Development is sounding the alarm on pervasive exploitation of persons.
The day is commemorated annually on July 30, with this year’s theme by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, “Reach every victim of trafficking, leave no one behind”.
In a statement, Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez said trafficking in persons violated the most fundamental human rights.
“Traffickers exploit and profit from adults or children by forcing them to perform labour or sexual acts. There are different types of trafficking of which the most prevalent are forced labour, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation,” Fernandez said.
During 2022-23, 11 survivors of human trafficking accessed accredited shelter services in the Western Cape.
Fernandez said most of the survivors were from Gauteng, lured with promises of work in Cape Town, but were sexually exploited instead.
A DSD social worker said the most common form of trafficking in the province was sex trafficking.
“Many trafficking victims will tell you they did not even know that they were being trafficked. In one case I counselled a young woman from Joburg who was lured to Cape
Town with the promise of a job in a beauty salon. Once she arrived here, her phone and belongings were taken away. She was forced to do sex work.”
The department works with the National Prosecuting Authority, police and the Health Department to provide the required services to victims.
Victims are able to access shelter services and social workers also accompany them to court. Support is also given once the victim has reintegrated into the community.
Fernandez said it was not just men who were perpetrators of this particular crime, but women were also active in luring victims. She urged precaution, especially around job advertisements which seemed too good to be true.
Trauma counsellor Haneem Smith said human trafficking is an extremely under prosecuted crime in South Africa, and the fastest growing crime globally.
“In South Africa we face truths like girls being trafficked for sexual exploitation as young as 10 years old and young South Africa men favoured by traffickers for their ability to provide cheap labour.”
Anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee said: “There is no doubt that human trafficking is on the increase. Although police have made some strides and a number of arrests are often made, this particular scourge is continuing.
“People are being trafficked for various reasons including labour and sex. Sex trafficking is becoming more and more of a worry in many parts of South Africa.”
Abramjee urged members of the public to report such crimes to Crime Stop anonymously 0860010111.