Rural, poor young women fall prey to human trafficking syndicates

Johannesburg – Human trafficking continues to thrive in South Africa, with many parents going to sleep not knowing where their children are.

The Hawks said the risk profile of victims being trafficked are women with low education, living in rural communities, who are either unemployed or seeking work, and within the age bracket of child and youth.

The national spokesperson of the Hawks, Captain Lloyd Ramovha, said that according to the UN, the universally accepted definition of human trafficking, also commonly known as Trafficking In Persons (TIP), is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception, with the aim of
exploiting them for profit.

“For the period March to September this year, there are 13 cases that were placed on the court roll and are all pending. There were 29 victims that were rescued, while 23 suspects got arrested,” said Ramovha.

“A South African male was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison for human trafficking.

“In Gauteng, there were six Chinese nationals arrested for trafficking in persons for the purpose of labour exploitation, and 17 Malawian nationals were rescued from a factory used for blanket manufacturing.”

He also said that in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, a South African woman who gave birth to twins had handed the minors, who were 28 days old, over to a South African couple and requested a payment of R50 a month until her twins’ child support grant was approved.

“All the suspects on the twins’ case were arrested and the case of trafficking in persons for the purpose of an illegal adoption is pending. The Directorate for Priority Crime  nvestigation (DPCI) in the prevention and combating of trafficking in persons uses a multi-disciplinary approach, embarks on awareness campaigns to educate the public on TIP and training of its members, the SAPS and other government departments and civil society on a victim-centered approach relating to TIP,” said Ramovha.

Last week Wednesday, the Hawks and the SAPS arrested a suspect during a roadblock in Queenstown after he was intercepted ferrying two 14-year-old children whom it was alleged he was taking to his farm to be child workers.

Chris Hani district SAPS spokesperson in the Eastern Cape Captain Namhla Mdleleni, said: “We have arrested a male suspect at a roadblock in Queenstown who was transporting two minors aged 14 to his farm to allegedly work as farmworkers. The suspect was charged for child labour and exploitation. His case is continuing,” Mdleleni said.

In another incident, regional spokesperson of the National Prosecuting Authority in the Eastern Cape, Anelisa Ngcakani, said three pensioners aged between 65 and 67 appeared in the Port Elizabeth High Court for human trafficking and rape.

“The trafficking in persons and rape trial of the three accused, aged between 65 and 67 years, will continue until 29 October. The trial commenced on 6 October and the two men, and one woman is accused of forcefully marrying a 13-year-old girl to a 60-year-old man in2016,” said Ngcakani.

A report by the US State Department released in July, found that human traffickers exploited domestic and foreign victims in South Africa.

The report further found that traffickers recruit victims from poor countries and poor and or rural areas within South Africa, particularly Gauteng, and exploit them for sex trafficking locally and in urban centres, such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and Bloemfontein.

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