Human Trafficking Awareness Week: Department to continue fight against scourge
As we observe the start of Human Trafficking Awareness Week, the Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) continues to warn the public, especially parents, to be extra vigilant.
Criminal traffickers are increasingly becoming organised crime syndicates, and use deceptive means to potentially abduct and traffic adults and children.
Given the complex and underground nature of trafficking, reliable statistics are difficult to come by, especially for children. However, the latest United States Trafficking in Persons annual report cited that in 2016 there were 11 conviction and 5 cases currently underway in South Africa.
In addition, 103 victims of trafficking have been assisted this year, compared to 41 in 2015.
The report further cites how, “South Africa is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Of great concern is that, “South Africans constitute the largest number of victims within the country”.
Earlier this year DSD took in five young boys from KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), who had been recruited and deceived into travelling to Cape Town under the impression of having secured places at a top soccer club’s training academy.
Four of the boys were under 18 years of age, and the fifth was 19 years old. As per the Children’s Act of 2005, social workers and officials from the DSD Human Trafficking Unit assisted in transporting the boys back home. This situation thankfully had a positive outcome as the boys evaded being exploited by the scammers.
DSD continues to render services to victims of human trafficking, and has allocated just over R14-million for shelter services under the Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP).
The VEP provides safe accommodation for adult victims of human trafficking and their children at shelters. The shelter services provide for basic needs like food, clothing and security. The victims can also access psycho-social support, and access to other needed services like medical and legal assistance and skills development to enable economic empowerment.
Ensuring the safety and care of children requires a whole-of-society approach. Residents can report any neglected, abandoned or missing children to the police or to the DSD Hotline on 0800 220 250. Alternatively, the public can seek assistance from our social workers at any of our local offices closest to them.
Source: South African Government.