Salvation Army to fight human trafficking during World Cup

Ok, so in the last couple of posts we have tended to do a lot of aggregation and writing on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the potential upsurge in human trafficking in the region. But this has been necessitated by the grave concerns on human trafficking during the global football showpiece. The article below by Issa Sikita da Silva from BizCommunity is interesting and allows SAAHTT an opportunity to publicise the toll free number set up by the Salvation Army that we talked about in the previous post.

Salvation Army, Be Heard to eradicate 2010 human trafficking

By: Issa Sikiti da Silva

Africa’s human trafficking, which is at its peak as the 2010 FIFA World Cup draws near, looks like an ‘incurable disease’ due to the complexities of the situation – South Africa’s lack of legislation, economic vulnerability, victims’ determination to seek their fortune, ‘corrupt’ immigration officials, syndicates’ reckless methods, porous borders and inadequate funding.

Some observers wonder how the Salvation Army and its partner Be Heard, which have stepped up their anti-human trafficking campaign and recently launched a 24-hour toll free hotline, will manage in such a complicated environment.

But Marieke Venter, of the Salvation Army’s central division, is adamant her organisation will do whatever it can to stop what she called ‘new slavery’, and save lives despite various challenges.

“We already have a couple of billboards erected here and there, and we will soon launch an aggressive media campaign on TV, radio and print, which we hope will create an ultimate awareness,” Venter said this week.

An ongoing Bizcommunity.com investigation reveals that trafficked people, nicknamed ‘livestock’ by syndicates, are sometimes dumped in and around Johannesburg and Pretoria (in front of churches, pubs and recreation centres, where there is a large concentration of foreigners), in the hope that a good Samaritan will spot them and help out.

A victim, who asked not to be identified, said: “I was a house builder and bricklayer back home and have three children, but this guy came and duped me into coming to SA, saying his connections will get me a well-paying job at one of these 2010 construction sites.

The man, who is now a hawker, allegedly paid him US$1500 (R12000).

The man also alleges that single and good-looking women in the group are taken away by ‘agents’ – nobody knows where – and women with children are abandoned.

“How can human beings become like commodities that can be sold in the open market,” Venter asked.

The Salvation Army has recently opened a shelter for victims of human trafficking in Pretoria.

Members of the public are urged to report cases of human trafficking on +27 (0) 8007 37283 (+27 (0) 8000-rescue), a number that will be operated by Be Heard, a division of Quiver Corporate Solutions.

Brian Adams, Quiver CEO, said: “We are glad to help for free and we hope this vital initiative will encourage people to speak out against this bad social behaviour.”

However, the call centre must not fulfill people’s expectations as members of the public can only report in eight SA languages – a problem Adams attributes to lack of funding to recruit staff who speak French, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Russian or Swahili.

“For now, this is the best we can do. But as soon as we get funds, we will definitely roll out the project in other languages.”

The Salvation Army is calling on the government to pass legislation as soon as possible so that human traffickers can be detained and prosecuted.

It is believed that a draft bill on human trafficking is being discussed in parliament.

Report human trafficking on +27 (0) 800 073 7283.

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