CAPE TOWN — Zimbabweans were among nearly 60 children who were rescued from traffickers in southern Africa over the last four years, a leading international migration organisation said here last weekend.
Zoe Rohde of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said six Zimbabweans children along with 48 others from African countries had fallen victim to child traffickers working on the continent.
“Nigerian organised crime syndicates operate heavily in Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein and traffic local black South African females into commercial sexual exploitation,” she said, adding “Advertisements in newspapers have been used as a recruitment technique to deceive young women into the sex industry.” Speaking at a Victim Empowerment conference organised by the South African Department of Social Development in Wellington, Rohde said girls were usually employed as commercial sex workers walking the streets, bars, brothels, massage parlors, saunas, and were forced to work as call-girls and for escort agencies.
Boys were meanwhile forced to work in agriculture, fishery, construction, mines, sweatshops and catering. She said in certain situations, the children were held for domestic servitude, street begging or peddling, forced military service, removal of body parts for muti purposes while others were trafficked for adoption and forced marriage.
The freed children were from Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Cameroon, Somalia, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Angola, Nigeria and RSA. The majority of the rescued children were from the DRC, 24, and 10 from Mozambique.
She said the children were lured with promises of domestic work and educational opportunities while adults were promised jobs in restaurants, massage parlors, marriage, domestic work, beauty and hair salons, au pairs, construction and agriculture. “Men and young boys from Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are trafficked into S.A for agricultural labour” she said.
South Africa was a source, transit and destination country. As a result, women and girls were trafficked internally and occasionally onward to Asian countries for sexual exploitation.
“Chinese, Thai and Eastern European women are trafficked into South Africa for debt-bonded sexual exploitation. Mozambique, Lesotho, Malawi as well as refugee producing countries for example Angola, Rwanda, DRC are source countries for women and children trafficked into South Africa.”
The Geneva based organised, which works globally to manage migration challenges has a mandate from its 127 member countries and 91 observers working in more than 440 field locations globally. IOM works to support Member States in their migration management efforts, while providing technical capacity to assist in meeting the challenges of managing migration to benefit Member States, migrants and societies.
In southern Africa, IOM has teamed up with the Southern African Counter Trafficking Programme (SACTAP) to break trafficking syndicates that abduct women and children from the region for sale in Europe and Asia or deploy them in South Africa.
Last year alone, IOM trained over 3000 government officials, particularly immigration and airline officials, in the region on human trafficking and 1328 in South Africa. At least 500 civil society representatives in the SADC region including shelter managers, counselors, medical personnel, advocacy groups, refugee assistance organisations and hotline operators received this training.
by Juma Donke