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Be vigilant of human trafficking
​The first week of October is Human Trafficking Awareness
week. Be aware of the dangers urge police.

The first week of October is Human Trafficking Awareness Week and with South Africa being a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking, people are urged to be aware of signs and dangers surrounding this heinous organised crime.

DURBAN is one of the four main human trafficking hubs in the country. Other hubs are Johannesburg, Cape Town and Bloemfontein. While human trafficking is not widely spoken about, the danger still exists, particularly for young people utilising social media and gaming apps.

Metro Police Spokesman Senior Superintendent Parboo Sewpersad said: “Human trafficking is real. It is happening right here in Durban. We work closely with the South African Police Service as well as
Immigration Services and we have seen that traffickers take advantage of the fact that we are a port city, so we also work with the Port of Durban as well.” He said they continue to urge the public to always be cautious, be wary of what they post on social media and not provide too much detail. “We also encourage people to be careful when responding to adverts for employment.

In many cases, all is not what it seems.” Sewpersad said members of the Metro Police have received specialised skills training to deal with human trafficking. Preying online is one of the methods criminals use to lure their victims. A concern was also acknowledged that during the Covid-19 lockdown there has been a global surge in the viewing of pornography. This is cause for concern as this is one of the avenues that trafficking victims are often caught up in.

According to the 2020 Trafficking In Persons Report, South Africa did well last year with regards to the prosecution of traffickers. The government prosecuted 71 alleged traffickers of which 44 were men and 27 were women. Prosecutors tried 62 alleged traffickers under provisions in the anti-trafficking law, five under the Immigration Act of 2002 and four under other statutes. South Africa successfully convicted eight traffickers, three men and five women.

Judges sentenced one trafficker to 19 life sentences, another to three life sentences plus 129 years, two offenders to six life sentences, one trafficker to life imprisonment plus 10 years, another to life imprisonment and another offender to 10 years’ imprisonment. In addition, judges convicted 13 people for sexual exploitation, nine people for grooming for sexual exploitation, 10 for solicitation, and two for keeping a brothel.

ONLINE DANGERS
Be careful what you post Predators can easily pose online as someone looking for a date in order to build trust and recruit victims. Traffickers often identify vulnerable young people through their social media presence. For example, posts that may suggest low self-esteem, problems at home or loneliness can signal to a trafficker that a person may be easily victimised. Other methods of recruiting include:
  • Direct contact with the person,
  • Direct contact with family and relatives,
  • An agent scouts for potential victims, sometimes representing themselves as a potential, sponsor or love interest and,
  • Misleading advertisements promising jobs and opportunities.
Who can be trafficked?
According to the National Freedom Network, an organisation that is working to combat trafficking in South Africa, there are many categories of people that are vulnerable to human trafficking: Anyone can be trafficked - it depends on who the traffickers need and what for what intended purpose.

But the more vulnerable groups include children, young girls without father figures or good male role models, young runaways, job seekers, drug addicts, young girls with acting or modelling aspirations and also young women subjected to distorted forms of ukuthwala or forced marriage.

Warning signs of a trafficked person

- Someone that appears anxious or afraid while being in the company of a controlling adult,
- Has excessive amounts of money,
- Discrepancies in reported age or behaviour,
- Exhibits fear, submission and depression and.
- Signs of physical abuse like cuts or burns.

STAGES OF GROOMING
Children are often groomed by traffickers and predators using many techniques. The most popular one contains six steps:
  1. Targeting: A trafficker will determine how vulnerable the child is, this means that they could be emotionally needy, isolated from their families and have less parental oversight.
  2. Gaining Trust: A friendly relationship will be established and the groomer will ask questions and determine any needs that could be exploited. They offer the child gifts, give them access to drugs and alcohol and once trust is established, they will ask the victim for favours in return.
  3. Filling a need: Once the groomer begins to cater to the needs of the victim, the groomer assumes more importance in the victim’s life and may become idealised.
  4. Isolation: The groomer works hard to separate the child from their family and friends. They will paint a negative picture of everyone except themselves.
  5. Sexual Contact: The predator seeks to exploit the child’s natural curiosity and increases sexual advances towards the victim.
  6. Maintaining control: Predator uses blame, threats, misinformation and fear to exert control over the victim.
 
REPORTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Contact your local police station, speak to a trusted family member, teacher or school counsellor, or
contact the toll-free hotline 0800 222 777
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