Howard Griffiths, Managing Director at Security Services Consultants (SSC), one of South Africa’s premier corporate and private investigations businesses, says that due to increasing calls over the last eighteen months or so, for SSC to become involved in investigations relating to the trafficking of persons and all related issues, he recently decided to investigate and fully understand the problem and its place in crime in general in South Africa.
The research conducted by SSC was widespread but centred on two main information sources:
- Relevant sections from the 2018 publication of the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC). ‘This UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons is the fourth of its kind mandated by the General Assembly through the 2010 United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. It covers 142 countries and provides an overview of patterns and flows of trafficking in persons at global, regional and national levels ….’ The publication reveals a rapidly growing international awareness of an hitherto underpublicized and misunderstood or underestimated problem- in terms of its severe adverse impact on related social, organised crime, drugs, organ theft, corruption, prostitution and smuggling issues in many countries worldwide; and
- Discussions held with a senior spokesperson from the Hope Risen Foundation in Johannesburg and information contained in the web site hoperisen.org – some of which has been included with permission in this article. This organisation, privately founded and funded by Tabitha Lage and now run by her and husband Rob, receives no government support but has become arguably one of the most effective focal points in the fight against people trafficking in South Africa. It is assisting to raise awareness levels of a social problem much bigger than ever thought and provides practical help and advice through its services.
SSC believes the horrific, cruel and adverse impact of the scourge of trafficking of persons together with all its attendant other evils deserves a much higher profile in the national interest and that all responsible adults in South Africa should make it their business to become fully aware of this evil, learn how to recognise it, where to report it and how to support the efforts of those fighting it. In this way the potentially vulnerable would be pre- emptively protected and those already captured could be rescued.
It is absolutely essential that awareness levels about the trafficking of persons in South Africa be raised significantly and publicised. The exemplary work being done by the Hope Risen Foundation and other local and international private sector organisations represented in South Africa (IJM, IOM, Love 146, Love Justice) in conjunction with law enforcement and Social Development Services should also be recognised and supported as so much more could be done with enhanced support.
Trafficking takes place within South Africa and the country is an exit and entry point for trafficked individuals. Cases have not been centrally reported and national statistics have not, until very recently, been centrally aggregated in a managed data base. So the extent of the problem has not been effectively calculated and addressed. The tip of the iceberg is known but the iceberg itself, with all its degrading brutality, cruelty and tragic consequences, is now beginning to emerge.
Background to People Trafficking in South Africa (Excerpt, with amendments, from Hope Rising Web Site)
‘Most of us are unaware the second largest, after drugs, organised crime in the world is Human Trafficking. One of the primary features of Human Trafficking is its covertness; it is highly inconspicuous unless looked for. It happens wherever people exist: malls, churches, schools, and it favours no specific socio-economic class, country or race. It is everywhere. 54% of Human Trafficking cases involve strangers and the other 46% of cases involve someone the victim already knows. A victim, once captured, can be trafficked multiple times.
Educating yourself and those around you is an important element for us to see Human Trafficking eradicated in our world today. Human Trafficking is modern day slavery; trading in people with the intention of exploiting them. Exploitation could include using people for personal gain, for profits of large sums of money or for the use of free labour.
Trafficking: Legal Classification
As per South African legislation, the following 3 components are necessary for a case to classify as trafficking:
- Mobilization: Any person who delivers, recruits, transports, transfers, harbours, sells, exchanges, leases or receives another person within or across the borders of the Republic; and
- Means: By means of threat of harm, threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, the abuse of vulnerability, fraud, deception, abduction, kidnapping, the abuse of power, direct or indirect giving or receiving of payments or benefits to obtain the consent of a person having control or authority over another person, the direct or indirect giving or receiving of payments, compensation, rewards, benefits or any other advantage aimed at either the person or an immediate family member of that person or any other person in close relationship to that person; and
- Exploitation: For the purpose of any form or manner of exploitation. All forms of slavery, similar practices, sexual exploitation, servitude, forced labour, child labour, removal of body parts, forced impregnation with a purpose of selling the child, forced marriage for exploitation and adoption for exploitation.
Types of Human Trafficking
- Sexual Exploitation. Includes: Forced Prostitution,Pornography,Stripping,Exotic Dancing,Touch and Peep Shows,Escort Services,Training to deal with clients who have particular fetishes etc. involving Brothels,“Massage” Parlours,Fetish Clubs,Classified Ads,Gentlemen’s Clubs.
- Child Exploitation. Includes: Any work that is unsuitable for the child and that will have negative impact on their social, mental, physical or emotional development. Involves, inter alia War (Child Soldiers), under age employment etc.
- Forced Labour. Includes: Difficult, dirty or dangerous jobs in e.g. .Fishing,Mining,Agriculture.
- Domestic Servitude. Includes: Forced to work long hours (12–16 hour days),Not allowed to leave, or call home, Often not paid and other abuses in e.g. Private Homes, Hospitality Industry, Au Pair Industry.
- Forced Marriages. Includes older men abducting or buying much younger girls, distortion of traditional cultural practices.
- Organ and Body Part Trafficking. Includes: The forced removal and illegal sale of organs / body parts in e.g. Black Market“Muthi”, Medical Field (those willing to pay very high sums to skip the ‘system’)
Who are the Traffickers? Includes: Gangs & Organised Crime Syndicates, Friends & Family Members, Acquaintances (someone who knows someone – 54% of cases involve strangers vs 46% of cases involve someone the victim already knows.
Who are the Facilitators? Includes: Brothel & Strip Club Owners and Pimps, Transport Providers, Government Officials.
The following Red Flags can be used to help identify potential Human Trafficking cases – especially when young women and children are involved. For suspected incidents that may have the following Red Flags it is important to report immediately to a local police station but also to the Hope Risen Foundation for action to be taken.
Includes: No local dialects, New arrival in the country, Lack of documentation / documents controlled by someone else, Debt bondage, Child accompanied by an unrelated adult, Lack of freedom to move, Watched 24/7 or living with employer, Give a vague / inconsistent explanation of where they live and work, Unpaid or paid very little, Under 18 and in prostitution / providing commercial sex acts, Serious injuries left untreated, signs of physical abuse & vague or reluctant to explain, Sexually transmitted infections, Pregnant / previous abortions, Drug addiction.
How to Help
Become a regular donator of funds and become aware and spread the word amongst your friends, your children’s school etc. Awareness is a huge need in South Africa — the average South African doesn’t know that Human Trafficking is a problem in our country. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on Anti-Human Trafficking Workshops or to Book a Speaker.