Human Traficking: be alert and stay safe

Every year thousands of men, women and children in South Africa fall into the trap of traffickers. According to A21 –  a nonprofit organisation fueled by radical hope that human beings everywhere will be rescued from bondage and completely restored, human trafficking is an internationally unlawful act that is impacting the lives of victims globally. These traffickers are known to deceive women, men and children, especially young girls, and force them into oppressive situations. The most common form of human trafficking is sexual exploitation.

In October 2020, Thandi* was driving from work in one of the busiest cities in South Africa. As she stopped at one of the traffic lights, someone smashed her car window and attempted to drag her out.  A vehicle approached from behind with more men attempting to drag her into the car trunk. She managed to fight them off and drove to an accident scene she had passed to seek help from authorities who assisted her by driving her to a place of safety.

Thandi* is one of a few survivors of human trafficking who was able to escape before her life turned into something far worse. The following points are an effort to assist citizens to be safe and vigilant and to increase awareness.

Job seekers

Traffickers have been known to target victims through advertising for jobs.  When applying for an advertised job:

  • Confirm that the organisation offering the job is legitimate and registered.
  • Analyse the location of the interview – If it seems to be in abandoned or deserted locations, that’s a sign of danger.
  • Contact the Department of Labour to assist in validating job offers, especially those outside the province or in another country.
  • Organisations who promise job opportunities that offer a lot of money in a short space of time are a definite red flag.

Travel

Travelling is usually coupled with positive emotions, especially when one is going on vacation, but this may be a risky situation. Here are pointers when visiting foreign countries:

  • Always keep contacts of the South African embassies or consulates in the country and alert them of your visit to that particular country
  • Read and research the country so you are aware of the environment you are visiting.
  • Hotels usually offer information on safety, familiarize yourself as much as possible.
  • Set an emergency signal with family or friends, which you can use in case of emergencies.
  • Make sure you know the emergency numbers of your hotel and the country you are visiting.
  • Be vigilant and be aware of your surroundings at all times

 

Online safety

Oftentimes, traffickers find their victims on the internet. Everyone is free to create their profile, the personal information of the users and the credibility of the information published is hardly guaranteed. Here’s some good advice for safe online activity:

  • When meeting someone you met online inform a friend, a relative, a colleague or someone who you can trust.
  • Never share personal information like your identity number, address, phone number, or information about friends and family members to strangers you met online and don’t know very well.
  • Do entertain messages with vulgar, inappropriate, unsafe or abusive content. Block users who send these.
  • Never send pictures to people you met online. Restrict the visibility options of your photos and the information you publish online to only close friends and family.

Useful contact to report human trafficking to:

South African Police Services (SAPS) 10111,

Department of Social Development (DSD) Hotline on 0800 220 250 or

National Human Trafficking Resource Line on 0800 222 777