March 10, 2017 by Student 24/7 Blog
“There are 2.45million people in a trafficked situation at any given time around the world. South Africa is seen as a source, transit and destination country for trafficking in persons.” These were just some of the startling facts given at the recent Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign presented by the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the North-West University, Vaal Triangle Campus (NWU Vaal).
The Campaign was a two-fold event, with the activation being held at the Student Centre in the afternoon, and the evening saw the speakers presenting at different residences to inform students on what Human Trafficking is, and what to do if found in such a situation.
The activation saw students from the different residences with prepared dance routines and plays to both entertain, educate and inform of the dangers of Human Trafficking, as well as a possible causes and effects of having a blesser. The evening saw representatives from the Department of Social Development in the Gauteng Province, as well as HAWKS speak to the students on what Human Trafficking is about, and what procedures are in place to help people who have been or are in the process of being trafficked.
From Social Development, Mr Bethuel Mokoena and Miss Tholakele Khumalo, Victim Empowerment Coordinators, explained that Human Trafficking is an organised, systematic crime, with the most popular targets being women, and poverty stricken persons. Mr Mokoena went on the describe the three main elements of Human Trafficking:
- Recruitment – false advertisements promising good work opportunities.
- Transportation – Moving a person by force from one place to another for organ or drug trafficking.
- Exploitation – Use for ‘slavery’ (manual cheap/free labour) and prostitution.
“Be resilient. Remember, you have support systems [on Campus]; utilize them”
Hearing from those who are involved on almost a daily basis in infiltrating and rescuing those that have been trafficked, brought the event to another level, when Captain Molumu, Captain Pitso and Warrant Officer Lebitso, members of HAWKS (Directorate for priority crime investigation). Before their presentation, the students were asked who they believed could be trafficked, and some were surprised to hear the answer of: ANYONE. Men, women and children of any age, race or sex are possible targets of Human Trafficking, because “the Traffickers aim is to make money out of you” one way or another, stated Captain Molumu.
“Human Trafficking is a global crime, and it’s scope is still a mystery. In South Africa, there may be up to 30 000 children in the country as sex slaves. Our focus is on preventing Human Trafficking, and with the new Act being operational, this is becoming more of a reality”, they explained. The Trafficking in Persons Act 7 of 2013, criminalizes human trafficking and grants specific rights to the victims, as well as protecting the victims from being charged and prosecuted for any offence they may have committed as a direct result of being trafficked*.
Poverty, lack of education, inequality, social and cultural practices are just some of the causes for human trafficking, with the victims then being used for labour, organ or drug smuggling and prostitution. This type of crime, while some may appear random, are “perpetrated by syndicates, and they could be anyone.” Once rescued, victims are taken to secret shelters where there is counselling and programmes (such as rehab) available for them, as well as skills training to help cope with the difficulty they may experience of re-integrating into society. “Chapter Two of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights (which sets out the fundamental rights of all South Africans, including right to dignity and right to equality), ensures that you are covered.”