The Travesty of Human Trafficking in South Africa

Renowned South African human rights lawyer George Bizos was moved to tears by the abuses highlighted in an exhibition on human trafficking in South Africa, launched at Constitutional Hill, writes Jackie Bischof for
Looking at the photographs,  Bizos said he “wondered what happened to sections of the Constitution in relation to the girls [in the images].”  Bizos said he was shocked to see how the photographs displayed “practically every one of the sub-sections in Section 28 [being] evidently disregarded.” Section 28 in the South African Bill of Rights deals the protection of children.Bizos said he was confounded that human trafficking was still an issue in South Africa when other regions, such as parts of Europe, had virtually eradicated the  problem within ten years of tackling it. “We don’t have to shout from the rooftops [about trafficking],” said Bizos. “We have [the media] and other ways in which our voices can be heard. But let’s not be silent.” He added that the first step that needs to be taken is urgently pushing through human trafficking legislation currently before Parliament.

The exhibition will run through mid-December and is part of Media Monitoring Africa’s interrogation of the media’s coverage of human trafficking in the country before, during and after the 2010 World Cup.Situated in the old Women’s Gaol at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg, which housed several female activists during the apartheid era, the exhibition features the photographs of Melanie Hamman, who has been visually documenting incidences of human trafficking around the world since 2007. The exhibition of her work in South Africa features pictures of three victims who had been lured away from their home with empty promises of work and financial gain and were struggling to escape their situation.

Human trafficking is something that the ordinary South African is totally oblivious to, says Hamman, and the incredible wealth in the country makes it even harder to understand how the trafficking of young children can be so rife.“SA is a wonderfully prosperous country, and there’s so much hope and so much has been achieved in the last ten years,” said Hamman. “But I see the wealth and the prosperity and I’ve stepped into the darkest, most impoverished parts of this nation as well. And something about that is just not right. How can a nation care? And why doesn’t a nation care?” asked Hamman. Pursuing a life that is even “basically happy” is an impossible obstacle for some of the children who are trafficked.With

Hamman’s photos flanking one wall, the other side of the room featured images chosen by MMA’s Child Media Monitors. Some of the images had been taken by Hamman while others were captured by amateur photographers from the Umuzi Photo Club in Soweto. Over a period of four months, MMA ran media workshops with around 60 ‘Child Media Monitors’ aged 9 to 13, looking at whether South African media coverage of children was fair and balanced. A portion of the children focussed on the issue of child trafficking. Photographs chosen by the children and their responses to the pictures appeared in the exhibition.The children’s participation in the exhibition allowed them to “communicate their pressing concerns relating to children’s rights; how these rights are upheld or denied in their own communities and the potential impact this may have,” said the MMA’s William Bird.Prior to the exhibition, Hamman and the children also discussed media coverage of child trafficking rumours over the World Cup period and debated whether sensational reporting such as figures of 100 000 girls being trafficked in for the World Cup, or children being kidnapped and sold for tens of thousands of rands helped the issue or contributed to media fatigue.Some of the rumours were way off the mark. “South African children aren’t that valuable,” said Hamman. “It can cost you R100 for a pimp to buy a South African child. The media is not really telling the right story.”The exhibition will run until the middle of December at the Women’s Gaol at Constitution Hill on Kotze Street, Johannesburg. For more information on the MMA, visit


Human Trafficking Research Gone Wrong?: The Case of South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) won a tender by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to conduct research on human trafficking occurrence in South Africa. The research titled ‘Tsireledzani: understanding the dimensions of human trafficking in southern Africa’, came out some time back in March and I had the opportunity to read through it. However, this report, despite being a laudable attempt to investigate human trafficking, faced a lot of criticism from independent scholars who felt it fell short of the research rigour expected from an eminent research institution such as the HSRC. I quickly and quietly rubbished the criticism as an attempt to belittle the challenge of human trafficking in southern Africa and particularly South Africa.

Tsireledzani Report

Tsireledzani Report

That being said, on Wednesday, I stumbled upon a more concise rebuttal published by (not really sure, although one of the authors is employed by ISS) the Institute of Security Studies (ISS). The paper, titled ‘Of Nigerians, Albinos, Satanists and Anecdotes: A critical review of the HSRC report on human trafficking’ is a more robust critique of the HSRC report. It argues that the HSRC report did not address and or query the research terms of reference. It goes on to state that the report is weak as it fails to give new insight into the problem of human trafficking and reads just like previous research by other organisations such as IOM and Molo Songololo which are not backed by evidence and are therefore heavily anectodal. The report is argued as being sensationalistic and even alarmist having come to the conclusion that human trafficking is rife in South Africa and therefore needing to be addressed on all fronts yet failing to give research to back this claim. This, the ISS paper claims may lead to the use of state resources to address a problem whose full extent is not known, potentially diverting scarce but much needed resources from more pressing and proven social ills.

ISS paper

ISS paper

I read the Tsireledzani research report and I somewhat regrettably have to concur with the ISS paper as the HSRC report reads just like the other human trafficking reports before it and offers no new insight into the problem. It sights the exact same limitations to conducting human trafficking research but does not seem to have countered or gone around these limitations to give fresh impetus and insight into the challenge of modern day slavery. Frankly, the research does seem to fall short.

The dangers of half-baked human trafficking research reports are clearly apparent in this scenario. The main problem is that it leads not just to the refutation of the human trafficking research reports but indeed the objection or at least the insinuation of an objection of the occurrence of human trafficking. Poor research that sounds alarmist and sensationalistic just seems to bring out the human trafficking denial proponents thus presenting a great stumbling block to anti human trafficking work. Thus while the ISS paper does not state that there is no human trafficking in South Africa it does refute a report that states that there is human trafficking in South Africa and by extension the very occurrence of human trafficking in South Africa, until….. until proven otherwise by more credible and evidence based or backed research. The ISS paper’s authors have urged or rather demanded that the HSRC withdraw its human trafficking research report. What is perhaps also commedable about the ISS paper is the fact that it recommends or gives insight into how the research should have been done, for example, the need for strong caveats acknowledging time and methodological limitations in the research, use of the IOM database of 300 or so trafficking victims, contesting the terms of reference etc etc.

Now is this a case of human trafficking research gone bad? Or a case of those in denial coming out with their swords? The jury is clearly still out. Personally, this presents a challenge to all modern day abolitions to do more, to conduct more robust research, to go beyond scratching the surface of the problem. Because, believe you me, the problem is there-whether or not we appreciate its full extent is debatable.

Gilbert Makore

N.B: the views expressed in this blog are of the author in his own individual capacity and in no way reflect the views of SAAHTT

Raped by ‘omaguma-guma’

By Phyllis Kachere in MUSINA

IT took Ms Sukoluhle Ncube (not her real name) four months to prepare for her journey to South Africa. She sold the only cow her late husband Mgcini had bequeathed to her and their five children on his death.

For her, the journey to South Africa symbolised all she had dreamt of; a better lifestyle for herself and the children.
But the journey ended tragically last week for the Lupane widow after she was raped by the men, known as omaguma-guma, who had promised to assist her cross illegally into South Africa.
“We were only two women out of the nine people in our group who were trying to cross into South Africa through the Tuli illegal crossing point.
“Before I left home in Lupane, I had paid three goats and R600 to an illegal transport operator we call umalayitsha who promised to facilitate my travel to South Africa.
“He is the one who linked me with these men who later raped me soon after we crossed the Limpopo at Tuli.”
Ms Ncube said soon after the five omaguma-guma had assisted them cross the Limpopo River into South Africa, a group of about 10 men emerged from the bush and started demanding cellphones and cash.
“They teamed up with our five guides and started physically searching us for valuables,” she said.
“I did not have a cellphone. After the body searches they called the other woman and myself aside, and they immediately began raping us.”
Ms Ncube said she was not sure how many men raped her, but believes that all the 15 men did.
The sexual assault resulted in her getting genital lacerations for which she was receiving treatment from doctors at the Medecins sans Frontieres clinic, a short distance from her shelter.
Ms Ncube says she has not reported the matter to the police on either side of the border because she believes the culprits may never be apprehended.
“Besides, I do not want my children and relatives to know this happened to me,” she said.
“It is a shameful thing and I don’t want anyone to know about this. If I report to the police, it also means I will be arrested for illegally crossing into South Africa without travel documents and then be deported.
“I don’t want to go back now. I have to bring food and clothing for my children. I can’t go back before I have even arrived at my destination.”
Ms Ncube said she hoped to proceed to either Johannesburg or Cape Town, depending on how much she will be able to raise in the next two months as she did odd jobs in Musina.
Her story is almost similar to the sad tales of the other 35 women sheltered at the Old Catholic Building.
The women said they had crossed illegally into South Africa because they did not have valid travel documents, but at the same time wished to job-hunt in South Africa.
“I have my two children to feed plus another child from my late brother to feed and educate,” said another woman who said she was lucky to escape the rape but not the robbery.
“I am unemployed and I think if I go to South Africa, I can change my circumstances and be able to provide for my three dependants. I can’t afford the high passport fees.”
Matron at the Old Catholic Building Mrs Dorah Ncube said because of a lack of funding, they allow sexually abused women to stay at the centre for only three days.
“We don’t have enough funding, so we allow the Zimbabwean women to stay for only three days during which time they receive free meals and a roof over their heads,” she said.
“They also use this time to seek medical treatment.
“Most women who drop in report having been sexually abused by the hordes of omaguma-guma roaming the porous border between Zimbabwe and South Africa with the intention of robbing and raping border jumpers.
“Some of the women are treated for sexually transmitted infections by doctors at the Medecins san Frontieres clinic while others receive post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV.”
Some of the women said they did not want to report their sexual assault cases to the South African police because they are living illegally in that country.
“I can’t hand over myself to SAPS (South Africa Police Services) because I am here illegally,” said another woman who declined to be identified, but said she was 47 years old.
“Reporting the rape that occurred when I was crossing the Limpopo River means handing myself over. I can’t. I need to proceed.”
Officer commanding Beit-bridge Chief Superintendent Hosiah Muko-mbero said they would investigate and arrest any culprits if there are reports made.
“But it is difficult to investigate from one side of the border because these omaguma-guma are highly mobile,” he said.
“They could be on the other side of the border.”
Dr Giussepe Damola from the Medecins sans Frontieres clinic said since January, they had treated 15 sexually abused Zimbabwean women per month, but the numbers have since increased to 25.
“In March, we treated 35 sexually assaulted Zimbabwean women,” he said.
“We also provided some of them with post-exposure prophylaxis for those who presented their cases within 72 hours of the rape.”
Dr Damola said he believed the numbers of women who are sexually assaulted as they tried to illegally cross into South Africa was higher than those that presented themselves at the clinic.
“I believe the number (of sexually abused women) crossing into South Africa from Zimbabwe is higher than what we have recorded,” he said.
“Some of the women proceed to further destinations without coming to the clinic.”
Authorities on both sides of the border said they were beefing up security at the illegal crossing points, but warned that would fail to have an impact if the public did not co-operate.
“The women have to stop these illegal crossings,” said a South African senior police officer based at the border, who declined to be identified.
“Otherwise, they are just putting their lives in danger.
“They have to come forward and report for us to be able to investigate and arrest the culprits.”
While security officials figure out how to deal with the situation, omaguma-guma continue to rule the roost on the Zimbabwe-South Africa border.

Human trafficking ring busted.

By Phyllis Kachere recently in Beitbridge.

FIVE South African nationals and three Zimbabwean accomplices were last week arrested after police in Beitbridge bust a network of criminals believed to have been behind a spate of robberies, kidnappings and human trafficking in the border town.

Officer Commanding police in Beitbridge District Chief Superintendent Hosiah Mukombero said law enforcement agents swooped on the suspects at a homestead in Makakabule, about 20km north of Beitbridge town. He said police also rescued five abductees who were being kept at the homestead ostensibly to be “sold off” in South Africa at a later stage.
South Africans Isaiah Khumalo, Padget Tshuma, Dumisani Ndlovu, Ronald Maphosa and Diamond Doubt Moyo are facing kidnapping and robbery charges. Their alleged accomplices are Vusumuzi Maphosa, Mushe Sibanda and Thabani Ngwenya. According to information to hand, the suspects would allegedly dupe Zimbabweans intending to travel to SA without documents into believing that they could assist them cross the border illegally. The “assistance” would be rendered at a fee. Upon receiving payment, the gang would take the unsuspecting border jumpers to Sibanda’s homestead in Makakabule where they would rob them before placing them under the guard of vicious touts.
“After being robbed, some of the abductees would be transported to South Africa, not before being informed that they owed the suspects fees for the facilitation,” said Chief Supt Mukombero.
“We believe they would force some of their victims to work for an unspecified period for little remuneration. It was more like being sold into slavery.” In April this year, Ngwenya, who operates as a tout and works for Khumalo, allegedly used his boss’s Toyota Hilux truck to “assist” five Zimbabwean border jumpers.
Khumalo is said to be an unlicensed transport operator (umalayitsha) who is essentially in the business of facilitating document-free travel.
“The five had their valuables, bank cards and cash forcibly taken away from them. Some money was also later withdrawn from their bank accounts,” reads part of a police charge sheet.
“The border jumpers were kidnapped and kept at Koro village (in Makakabule). They were told that they would be taken to South Africa for a fee.”
Tshuma, a South African malayitsha, is accused of conniving with Tawanda Mutonhori, who is still at large, to lure and kidnap one of the Zimbabweans. Maphosa of Gwanda is, on the other hand, accused of luring a seven-year-old boy from Lupane and keeping him at Koro village with the intention of taking him to South Africa.

Human Trafficking….Beyond 2010

There has been considerable press coverage and spotlight on the potential upsurge in human trafficking throughout southern Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup spectacle in South Africa which runs from 11 June to 11 July. This has led to numerous blog posts, news articles and other commendable action-oriented initiatives which have been aimed at addressing the scourge of human trafficking, in one way or the other. This represents a positive anti-trafficking wave which will no doubt be welcomed by all modern day abolitionists across the world. This spotlight will hopefully translate to increased awareness of the threat of human trafficking, particularly among women, children and other vulnerable communities. We hope that the focus on trafficking will also translate into an increase in the reporting of any suspected trafficking cases; and the apprehension, arrest and prosecution of traffickers.

However, there has been very little in the way of efforts to address human trafficking, in all its forms, beyond 2010 the FIFA World Cup. While the focus on trafficking is not to be taken lightly there remains a critical need to look at the long term strategies of addressing human trafficking within southern Africa. What we fear, a fear that is no doubt shared by other individuals and organisations, is the fact that the focus on human trafficking may wane and die down as the curtain closes down on the World Cup. There is a need to ensure that there are sustained efforts to address human trafficking stretching beyond the world’s biggest sporting event. As an organisation, we firmly believe that all anti trafficking advocacy, lobbying and awareness raising efforts should be steeped in the realisation that modern day slavery is not a once off occurrence. It (modern day slavery) is influenced by the organised crime industry and continuing complex migration flows.

Long term strategies in this context refer to strategies that recognize the need for reforms to the legal and policy framework and other issues such as integrating anti trafficking awareness raising within training of the security sector and amongst law enforcement agents. There is a need to address the root causes of trafficking. This may include proposing and testing out solutions that seek to redress issues such as porous borders, travel documentation, labour conditions, communities’ behavioural change and socio-economic vulnerabilities among a whole host of other issues. There is scope for instituting or formulating new laws and policies that will ensure enhanced protection of victims and increased prosecution of traffickers. Clearly, these are issues that cannot be addressed during the month long soccer fiesta in South Africa and are issues that require further rumination, if they are to be addressed successfully.

Hopefully, this post will not be read as a condemnation of current on-going efforts by various actors to address the potential upsurge of trafficking during the World Cup. In fact, SAAHTT salutes every individual and organisation that is involved, in one way or the other, in the fight against modern day slavery. More than anything, this post should be read as a reminder to be more forward looking in terms of establishing a permanent infrastructure that moves against an increase in trafficking in the region. We also hope this post will not dampen the unmistakeable excitement and euphoria that is sweeping across southern Africa (you can almost touch it) as a result of the World Cup. Let us all go out and watch some football and rally behind AFRICA!!!

gilbert makore

s.a celebrities make video on human trafficking

This is a great video from South African celebraties on human trafficking. We particularly like the fact that it moves from being funny to being serious as the celebrities realise the gravity of human trafficking. The video is great as it highlights limited knowledge of the problem of human trafficking. Its also great that South African celebrities made time for the PSA with the football world cup drawing near. Great video!

South Africa addresses human trafficking in advance of Soccer World Cup

Trafficking in Persons, as Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, is a real ‘scourge’ of our time and is generally referred to as ‘Modern Day Slavery’. It is difficult to comprehend that in this day and age slavery still exists; that people are bought and sold and transported all over the world. Yet, it has been suggested that slavery is more common now than at any time in world history and that hardly any country is untouched by it. Due to the underground nature of trafficking, there are no official records of trafficked persons, therefore, estimates vary widely. Some estimate that there are 27 million in slavery worldwide; that approximately 800 000 people are trafficked across national borders.

This does not include the millions trafficked within their own country. Child trafficking is said to be on the increase. The United Nations estimates that child-trafficking alone generates 7 to10 billion US dollars annually for traffickers. It cites trafficking in persons as the second most lucrative crime around the world next to the drug trade and that 30% of trafficking victims are below the age of 18.

Trends in trafficking in and to South Africa

In South Africa, trafficking in persons is both a trans-national crime as well as a crime that takes place within the borders of the country. It has become a source, destination and transit country for trafficking in persons as it is perceived in and outside the continent as the economic giant in Africa offering many opportunities. People are trafficked for many reasons including for labour and sexual exploitation. Trafficking is further spurred by an increasing sex tourism. There is evidence that children are trafficked for a number of reasons – for labour and sexual exploitation; to be beggars, street vendors, housebreakers and drug runners. However, statistics on trafficking are not easily available as information reported to the police is captured under alternative charges such as racketeering, abduction, or organised crime.

The primary factors that facilitate trafficking in persons are, as we hear so often: poverty, family breakdown, gender discrimination, culture, HIV/AIDS, war, natural disasters and political instability, ignorance and demand. Other factors include weak laws and corruption and migration.

Despite significant efforts made by the South African Government to combat trafficking in persons (ratification of the Palermo Protocol and progress on developing a national plan of action to deal with the problem) the country has been placed on the “Tier 2 Watch List” by the US Department of Trafficking in Persons ,for the past four years. This is because South Africa has not met the minimum standards, laid down by the Palermo Protocol, needed to eliminate trafficking. It has been unable to provide data on trafficking crimes which have been investigated or prosecuted, because they have been placed under other offences. It is hoped , however, that the anti-trafficking in persons legislation bill will be in place by the end of 2009. Important moves have been taken on different fronts.

From 25 – 29 March 2009, I did attend the National Conference on Human Trafficking , held at the Elangeni in Durban. The Conference was organized by the SOCA Unit of the NPA. The Unit has formed a “Trafficking in Persons Intersectorial Task Team”, which includes : the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development; Home Affairs; Labour; Social Development; SAPS; IOM; UNODC and the NGO MOLO SONGOLOLO. The Department of Health , Correctional Services, Education and the national Treasury are also represented in the partnership. This is an important move towards a holistic approach to fighting the crime. Besides a National Task Team being formed, each Province will be asked to establish a regional task team on a similar basis. KZN has already led the way. It has also been announced recently that the Legislation Bill will soon be in the Gazette for public debate. The Conference was funded by the EU who have given 6.3 million euros to assist the SOCA unit of the NPA to put the resolutions of the meeting in place.

Internal and External Trafficking

South Africa shares borders with Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland. It has 72 official ports of entry “and a number of unofficial ports of entry where people come in and out without being detected” along it’s 5 000km-long land borderline. The problem of porous borders is compounded by the lack of adequately trained employees, resulting in few police officials controlling large portions of the country’s coastline. Countries with reported trafficking links with South Africa include Angola; Botswana; Congo, Democratic Republic; Congo, Republic; Lesotho; Mozambique; Malawi; Namibia; Swaziland; Tanzania; Zimbabwe; Zambia. Known links with Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Swaziland are often highlighted at workshops.

Trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation is a significant problem in Southern Africa

Women seeking refugee status in South Africa from other African countries are trafficked by refugees already living there. Mozambican girls and young women are trafficked into major cities. An estimated 1000 Mozambican girls are trafficked to Johannesburg each year and sold as sex slaves or as wives to the Mozambican mine workers. Young women have been trafficked from Thailand and China to South Africa. When identified by police in South Africa victims of trafficking are deported as illegal immigrants. Victims are afraid of law enforcement and do not trust the police to assist them. South Africa has no public services specifically designed to assist victims of trafficking. . Trafficking in South Africa appears to be closely linked with the highly sophisticated global sex industry.

Trafficking and Major Events

It has been argued that there are at least two ways in which international sporting events can affect human trafficking. Firstly it can contribute to a short-term increase in demand for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation in and around the event. Secondly, it can facilitate the entry of trafficked persons as “visitors” before they are transited to other cities or countries where they are exploited.

Concerns around 2010 FIFA World Cup

The upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup (FWC) in South Africa which is expected to generate more than $4 billion, the highest revenue in World Cup history, raises various concerns about the possible increase in the abuse, exploitation and trafficking in persons especially children during the games; that it will provide opportunities for abusers, exploiters and traffickers to meet the perceived increased demand for cheap labour and sexual services.

At a meeting in September last year , organized by Molo Songololo , it was said that during June and July of 2010 South Africa will host the 2010 FWC. 32 teams will arrive 2 to 3 weeks prior to the tournament and then, during a period of 43 days, an estimated 2.7 million local spectators will view 64 matches played in 9 cities around the country. It is also said that there will be an estimated 350 000 to 500 000 visitors to the country. It is estimated that 20 million fans will be watching the games on big screens at fan parks across the country. The 9 cities where the event will take place include: Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Bloemfontein, Rustenberg, Pretoria, Johannesburg, Nelspruit and Polokwane. Major concerns were raised among us, some of which included:

– South Africa is planning to introduce visa-free travel across southern Africa in time for the 2010 WFC with the purpose of promoting tourism and freer business travel and trade in the region. Relaxing of visa requirements for travel in the SADC region could contribute to potential risks of increased migration that could include trafficking.

– recruitment of young women and children from rural areas for exploitation in the major Host Cities.

– children may make their own way to the cities in a desire to be part of festivities, which could render them vulnerable to exploitation.

– An increase in child labour could result from parents sending their children to the street to beg for money from tourists or children being recruited to sell paraphernalia. Tourists may also lack information regarding the trafficking of children for purposes of child labour which may exacerbate the problem. The event could lead to an increase in need for cheap labour, and opportunities for petty crime and begging. The increase in demand for domestic work may lead to girls being recruited from rural areas.

– An increase in the demand for sexual services.-and this demand will be filled by trafficked victims. Trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation was noted as an already significant problem in Southern Africa.

– An increase in organized crime. The fact that gangs and organized crime syndicates are already operating in the country, with concerns that these criminal groups are targeting children in order to fulfil the perceived increase in demand for prostitution and drugs which the event is expected to bring.

– The fact that the schools will be closed during the 2010 FWC has been identified as potential risk factor as this will lead to a sharp increase in the number of unattended children.

– Unmet demand for cheap labour

– Demand for sexual services for example linked to tourism development.

– Changes in the economy, which has increased the demand for cheap labour.

– Demand from certain types of men for sex with children.

Overall, Poverty, high unemployment and lack of opportunity – the quest for a means of survival –are listed as ultimately the engine driving trafficking in human persons.

Children identified to be most “at risk”

Various reports by Molo Songololo emphasise that In recent years there has been and increase in the number of trafficking in children cases identified. These cases include trafficking in children for purposes of sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, abduction and removal of organs. As trafficking networks in the region are already reported as a risk, external trafficking, particularly within the region, has a very strong likelihood of increasing in expectation of economic gain around the event. While all children may be vulnerable to trafficking, there are certain groups that can be considered more vulnerable than others. This is largely because many of them lack awareness around the dangers of trafficking. Economic vulnerability is, as already mentioned , a major cause, exacerbated by emotional reality and previous abuse. Children on the street are particularly vulnerable. Most at risk include unattended children, street children, and refugee children, lost children are all vulnerable and at risk of exploitation and trafficking. The WFC event could also attract paedophiles who can easily disguise their purpose within the event.

In the year 2000, Molo Songololo already estimated a figure of around 30 000 child prostitutes in South Africa. As is highlighted above, concerns and debates surrounding the impact of sporting events appear to be centred around the issue of demand. More specifically, the concern is based on the argument that a temporary gathering of persons in a setting such as the World Cup will lead to an increase in demand for sexual services and this demand will be filled by trafficking victims.

The Counter Trafficking in Persons Desk of the Catholic Church in South Africa

This Desk was set up in January 2008 by the Leadership Conference of Consecrated Religious (LCCL)(SA) and the Southern African Catholic bishops’ Conference (SACBC). Because of the ignorance of many around the whole issue of trafficking in persons one of its major tasks has been that of awareness raising. To this end a number of workshops have been conducted around the country. Capacity building programs have also been conducted in various dioceses so that those trained continue the awareness raising and prevention campaign in parishes and among the wider community in their areas. To this end also much resource material has been produced.

2010 campaign

Of late we have been discussing certain activities that are within our scope to make every effort to reduce the level of trafficking in persons around 2010 and beyond. We have learned of the ‘Red Card’ Campaign in Germany which was a great success in reducing the level of trafficking in persons there in 2006. We wish to do something similar and produce material to be distributed to hotels, internet, TV and newspaper advertisements .

South Africa is planning to take direction from Germany and erect Fan Parks in every 2010 FWC host city during 2010 FWC. Fan Parks are enclosed public viewing areas (PVAs) where all matches will be shown live on big screens with live entertainment and DJ’s entertainment between matches. In addition to these and other official Fan Parks, bars restaurants and shopping malls across South Africa will also set up commercial viewing areas for fans. In our planning special attention will also be paid to the nine Host Cities which will host matches as part of the 2010 FWC, noting main stadiums at which matches will be played, as well as the training venues and official fan parks that can be regarded as significant areas around which much activity for the event will centre.

What tourists and visitors need to be aware of:

– Visitors need to be made aware that South Africa is a ‘hotspot’ for human trafficking.
– Tourists and visitors need to be aware of the expectations of those who come from desperately poor circumstances, viewing 2010 as an opportunity to improve their members’ economic conditions. These people are vulnerable. As there will be a natural attraction to the Host Cities to be part of the celebrations vulnerable people are open to exploitation.
– Tourists may also lack information regarding the trafficking of children for purposes of child labour and sexual exploitation.
– Prostitution is illegal in South Africa. However, very often traffickers intermingle trafficked girls among local prostitutes.
– Street children are particularly vulnerable to abuse.

How you can help

– Awareness raising

Many are not sensitized to the reality of human trafficking around the globe. Target possible visitors to SA finding ways to circulate information about the reality of human trafficking in Southern Africa and how the poor and destitute in the SADC region are used and abused and deprived of their human dignity.

– Support the efforts of the Counter Trafficking Desk in producing material for its 2010 campaign to protect our people, especially women and children against being trafficked.

Sr Melanie O’ Connor is the Co-ordinator of the Counter Trafficking in Persons Desk for the Conference of Catholic Bishops of South Africa.