#minorsextrafficking | Human trafficking remains a big challenge to local law enforcement

The Hawks are adamant to fight crime with a focus on corruption and human trafficking.

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This was stated by Captain Lefa Lebitso from the Hawks during a trafficking in persons awareness event on October 28.

“As law enforcement officials, we are aware that human trafficking occurs every day, but we need to create more awareness,” said Lebitso.

“Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception with an aim of exploiting them for profit,” said Lebitso.

“Men, women, and children of all ages and backgrounds can become the victims of this crime.

“The traffickers often use violence or fraudulent employment agencies and fake promises of education and job opportunities to trick and coerce their victims,” said Lebitso.

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According to the human trafficking ambassador for the Gauteng Department of Social Development in Ekurhuleni, Matamela Matsenene, women and children are at a higher risk of being trafficked.

“Women are trafficked for commercial sex, forced marriages and slavery. Some are trafficked because they willingly meet strangers from social media networks,” said Matsenene.

“According to a recent study, the number of people trapped in human trafficking doubled in the 2021/22 financial year.

“From April 2021 to March 2022, 83 people were trafficked and 74 were referred for care.

“In addition, 24 children were trafficked but were found and referred to care by NPOs and 62 potential victims were identified,” said Matsenene.

“The national human trafficking hotline received 2 146 calls in 2021 and as a result, 20 people were removed from exploitation.

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“In South Africa, 11 traffickers were convicted, with five receiving life sentences and one getting 20 years in jail while five are still awaiting sentencing,” said Matsenene.

She added that South Africa remains on the tier two watch list of the trafficking in persons rankings for the second consecutive year.

“According to the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Person Act 7 of 2013, social service professionals play a critical role in the reporting, identification and assessment of a person who is the victim of trafficking,” said Matsenene.

“They assist the victims to be placed under approved programmes and children placed in temporary safe care.

“Such programmes offer accommodation, counselling and rehabilitation services as well as re-integrate the victim back into their families and communities,” said Matsenene.

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