"The current legislation (human trafficking) is still an act that is not yet in operation. Currently we are using some fragmented legal framework to address trafficking in persons. We use our Sexual Offences Act which has got provisional provisions to counter trafficking in persons.” – NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku.
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PRETORIA - As a multi-law enforcement partnership works to wipe out human trafficking, it appears the practice is on the rise in South Africa with most people being smuggled into the country via land and sea borders.
Just eight months ago, the Graskop regional court in Mpumalanga handed down eight life sentences to businessman Nyambi Mabuza.
The 62-year-old was convicted of trafficking Mozambican girls, between the ages of 11 and 17 for sexual exploitation.
Mabuza and his Mozambican accomplice, 24-year-old Violet Chauke, lured the girls by telling them he would take them to school.
Cases like this are convicted under the Sexual Offences Act and the Children’s Act, as the human trafficking law in South Africa has not yet been implemented, leaving a statistics vacuum.
“Very often when we deal with trafficked victims – because of the Human Trafficking Act or legislation not being enacted yet - we charge the traffickers for rape or kidnapping, and that of course will then provide different statistics, so it will be under sexual offences,” said the NPA's Gauteng anti-human trafficking task team chairperson Carina Coetzee.
“The Sexual Offences Act also deals with providing or utilising children to do sex work. In terms of that, we would charge in terms of the Sexual Offences Act which might not necessarily reflect on the NPA stats for human trafficking. I think we have dealt with a lot more human trafficking cases in the absence of this legislation than what the statistics would reflect.”
“We have more people coming from other countries to South Africa, as we know that research says South Africa is a destination. There are people who are coming from other countries to work as sex workers; that is the trend that we are seeing,” said Major General Liziwe Ntshinga.
Ntshinga said most people are trafficked into South Africa and put to work in brothels. Very few victims are forced to work as labourers.
Officials are continuing raids on brothels and acting on information to rescue victims in operations that include the police, Home Affairs, NPA and social workers.
South Africa has also seen an increase in syndicates operating within the country, who are moving people from province to province.
“There are syndicates that we have identified. Late last year we had a project which was running between three provinces – North West, Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal, where Nigerians were running the syndicate in terms of human trafficking and we managed to arrest them and the cases are in court. So there are trends of human trafficking in the country,” said Ntshinga.
“With the new legislation, it defines trafficking in persons holistically. It addresses the scourge of trafficking in persons comprehensively. Its definition is in line with the Palermo Protocol.” - NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku.
Click here for more on the eNCA feature The Human Trade.