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Joburg human trafficking, sex capital

Published Jan 31, 2023


Johannesburg - The first report on the scope and nature of human trafficking in South Africa has revealed that the country has become a source, transit point and destination for human trafficking.

This report also indicates that the Johannesburg CBD, Saxonwold and Sandringham are the major trafficking hubs in the country.

The report, which was released on Monday under the title “Research into the Nature and Scope of Trafficking in Persons in South Africa: Prevalence Insights from the Criminal Justice System and Relevant Reporting Mechanisms” documents available data and/or lived experiences related to incidents of human trafficking in South Africa.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and its research partners released their first report from a larger authoritative research study on the scope and nature of human trafficking in South Africa.

Dr. Marcel van der Watt, a research fellow at the Free State Centre for Human Rights, said perpetrators of human trafficking come in different shades and guises with different nationalities involved in human trade.

“There are often preconceived ideas. So the profile of perpetrators have multiple nationalities involved in trafficking in South Africa but South African nationals still eclipses all the nationalities in terms of perpetrators.”

Dr Van der Watt said gender remains mixed between males and females.

“Gender – very interesting in successfully prosecuted cases – 38 women being convicted of trafficking, 39 men, so that’s very interesting when you look at male and female and the role that women have to also perpetrate and enable these criminal networks. We have victims of trafficking from several African countries,” Dr van der Walt.

The partners, which include South Africa, SA Laser Pulse, Purdue University, the School of Human and Community Development at the University of the Witwatersrand, and Khulisa Management Services, supported by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and USAID, said the report stemmed from a study on human trafficking that was conducted from 2020 to 2022.

Findings from the research confirm that sex trafficking continues to make up most of both reported cases and prosecutions of trafficking in persons (TIP), while labour trafficking prosecutions, similar to trends observed internationally, are severely lacking.

The report reveals that victims and perpetrators of human trafficking are significantly unaccounted for in both research and practice.

It also indicates that extreme violence is usually carried out by traffickers, while places where exploitation occurs are entrenched firmly in communities and operate for long periods without any intervention from the law enforcement authorities.

The report comes just as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) issued a warrant of arrest for alleged sex ring kingpin Gerhard Ackerman, who is on trial for 704 charges of rape, distribution of child pornography, and human trafficking. He was sought by the SAPS after he allegedly sold his movable property before he disappeared.

According to the NPA, State advocate Valencia Dube approached the court with an urgent application earlier on Friday to have Ackerman’s bail revoked following his failure to comply with the court order to furnish the state with a doctor’s note on January 27.

Ackerman failed to make his court appearance on Thursday, leading to his re-arrest at the weekend after he failed to produce a medical certificate on Friday.

On Monday, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg also heard how Ackerman had wanted to get a firearm in a bid to commit suicide as he felt he would not get a fair trail. Ackerman also travelled to Pretoria on the same day he was due to appear in court and was relocating to Pretoria as he could not afford to pay R6 000 rental on the property he was renting.

Ackerman, who now remains in custody, is facing more than 740 counts of crime, including rape, attempted murder, production and distribution of child pornography and human trafficking.

The Star