Johannesburg - While the world observed World Day Against Trafficking in Persons yesterday, South Africa continues to see an increase in that crime.
Recently, the CIA raised the involvement of Nigerians and Congolese in its drug and human trafficking reports concerning South Africa.
The country remains a Tier 2 country for the third consecutive year in the Trafficking in Persons report released last month.
This means the country has a government that does not fully comply with the minimum standards for preventing such crimes, although it is making some strides towards doing so.
The government did not demonstrate overall increased efforts compared with the previous reporting period, even considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity.
Although South Africa has the requisite legislation in place to fight human trafficking in all its guises, it is the implementation and enforcement that are the problem. That, and understanding the scope of human trafficking and what the term encompasses.
Trafficking of people is a form of exploitation in which the victim is recruited through deception or force. The person is moved from one place to another, where the exploitation will take place.
The report recommended that victims are not inappropriately penalised solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. It also recommended an increase in efforts to investigate, prosecute and convict officials complicit in trafficking crimes and traffickers within organised crime syndicates, including cases of online exploitation.
“Increase training for SAPS officers on trauma-informed interviewing techniques, as well as victim identification and referral SOPs, and train specialised investigators on human trafficking investigations and computer forensics to investigate online exploitation,” the report recommended.
The Free State Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) observed the day at St Peter’s Anglican Church in Zamdela yesterday, where it addressed the congregation on human trafficking.
Human trafficking does not only occur between countries. It can be found within communities where traffickers offer disguised opportunities for employment, before luring their victims into slavery, dependency on drugs, drug trafficking, child labour, and sex work.
Free State Head of the Hawks, Major General Mokgadi Bokaba said: “Residents should be the first line of defence when they see strange behaviour towards an enslaved domestic worker, or a pimp or madam who organises multiple sex partners for their victim. They must shout for help when they witness exploitation.”
She warned parents to monitor their children’s use of the internet.
From December 2007 to January 2022, an estimated 11 077 trafficking cases were reported in South Africa. In September 2021, Police Minister Bheki Cele told Parliament that from 2018 to 2021, 781 South African children fell victim to child trafficking.