Society has been called on to help in the fight against human trafficking, with parents in particular being urged to be extra vigilant.
Western Cape minister of social development Sharna Fernandez said South Africa continued to be a source, transit and destination country for victims, with traffickers increasingly becoming organized crime syndicates and using deceptive means to potentially abduct and traffic adults and children. This was said in a statement to mark the start of Human Trafficking Awareness Week from 1 October to 7 October 2019.
The Ministry of Social Development has warned that the use of deceptive schemes consistently increases and that adults and children alike are potential victims, and that less than 2% of victims are ever found.
“Victims of human trafficking can be identified as they are controlled by another person and are not free to come and go as they wish,” Fernandez said.
Other signs to look out for are:
- poor mental health
- poor physical health
- substance abuse
- physical abuse
- malnutrition avoiding of eye contact
- few or no personal possessions
According to the minister, the provincial government was working closely with the South African Police Service, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks), the National Prosecuting Authority, International Organization for Migration and specialist non-governmental organisations to fight the scourge.
“Our department currently funds 16 shelters in the Western Cape that can accommodate victims and their children up to three months, and four emergency shelters that accommodate victims for up to two weeks,” she said.
An alarming United Nations reports says more than 35% of human trafficking victims are female and the possibility of finding the victims is very low.
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