State must tackle human trafficking, says the HSRC

2010-03-24 11:07

GOVERNMENT and civil society need to take serious action against

human trafficking in South Africa, according to a Human Sciences Research

Council (HSRC) report released today.

“Human trafficking in South Africa is a serious problem and

warrants intervention on all fronts,” said the study released at a National

Prosecuting Authority conference on the subject.

Victims are mostly women, girls and boys, and they are trafficked

for a variety of purposes including prostitution, pornography, domestic

servitude, forced labour, begging, criminal activity and trafficking for the

removal of body parts or muti. Young boys are trafficked to smuggle drugs and

for other criminal activities.

South Africa is a destination country for long-distance flows of

mainly women from Thailand, Philippines, India, China, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia

and the Ukraine, who enter the country at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International


From within Africa, people are trafficked across the extensive land

borders of South Africa, mostly from Mozambique and Zimbabwe and to a lesser

extent Malawi, Swaziland and Lesotho.

Longer-distance trafficking involves victims trafficked from the

Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Rwanda, Kenya, Cameroon, Nigeria and


“All documented cases in this last category are women trafficked

for sexual and labour exploitation,” according to a summary of the report.

The albino community was also identified as vulnerable to human

traffickers for the harvesting of body parts, due the belief that a white skin

had potent powers, the report claimed.

Trafficking of South Africans out of the country was less of a

problem, but eight cases were identified between January 2004 and January


Destination countries included Ireland, Zimbabwe, Israel,

Switzerland, the Netherlands and Macau.

In all cases, the victims were women trafficked for either sexual

exploitation, labour exploitation or forced marriage.

Perpetrators and intermediaries included large organised crime

networks and South African men with military backgrounds working together with


The researchers said they experienced serious difficulties in

conducting the study.

“South Africa is not collecting even basic national-level data

which will allow sound estimates about the scale of the problem. They also had

difficulty accessing key informants in government departments, because

government databases of contacts were not made available.”

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