57 victims of human trafficking get to go home

By Drum Digital
15 December 2016

57 victims of human trafficking will all return home to Malawi by the end of the week.

There is some Christmas cheer for 30 minors, aged between 11 and 17, as they were sent back home to Malawi on Wednesday. The minors, who were victims of human trafficking, will be followed by 27 adults (aged between 18 and 28) who had endured the same fate, by the end of this week.

According to the Hawks, the children flew from O.R Tambo Airport early on Wednesday morning, while the adults were handed over to the Department of Home Affairs two days ago for deportation.

In June 2016, police stationed at Boitekong in the North West province were conducting their routine patrol when they stopped a speeding truck.

The officers found 57 victims of human trafficking cramped in the back of the windowless truck.

According to Captain Tlangelani Rikhotso, a thorough investigation followed and interviews were conducted with the victims who had alleged stopped the driver while stranded at a certain place for four days without transport on their way to South Africa.

In a statement, the Hawks said the matter was investigated thoroughly, and they traced the relatives of the victims based in South Africa and took their statements.

Three Malawian nationals were arrested for Trafficking in Persons which include:  the driver, Jabu Sailesi (48), and two other adult occupants, Mussa Kaswili (31) and Uka Wasili (30). The victims were taken to safe houses and the Malawian Embassy was contacted to assist.

The National Prosecution Authority, the Malawian Consulate, Interpol, the Department of Social Department, the Department of Home Affairs (Immigration), International Organisation for Migration), the Department of Health, the Department of Justice and Bosasa Youth Care Centre partnered together to make sure the repatriation process was successful.

The charges of Trafficking in Persons were dropped and the three accused were charged with Smuggling of Persons under the Immigration Act.

Sailesi and Wasili were newly-charged under the Immigration Act, while Kaswili was not charged because he had a valid passport.

According to the International Labour Organisation, human trafficking is estimated to be a R1, 9 billion industry globally. However, the victims never see a cent of this as they are exploited.

Victims are trafficked for the use of prostitution; begging and manual labour and traffickers could be anyone, even people you trust, such as family members and friends.

Dr Monique Emser, member of the KwaZulu-Natal Human Trafficking, Prostitution, Pornography and Brothels Task Team, tells DRUM it is not easy for victims to escape their traffickers and South African citizens are partly to blame for trafficking in Mzansi.

“We are the ones who are feeding the market and creating the demand,” she says. “We always demand cheap products and services.”

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