South Africa tackles human trafficking

24 February 2015

Social welfare experts have called for improved co-ordination and integration of services between various role players to give better support to victims of human trafficking.

At a roundtable held by the Department of Social Development, the stakeholders looked at ways to implement the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act, as well as find new ways to combat human trafficking. The Act was signed into law in July 2013.

The meeting highlighted the importance of improving the co-ordination of victim support services throughout the support spectrum and referral system. Other recommendations included:

  • The fast-tracking of integrated information management systems between role players;
  • A rapid finalisation of issues in order for the Act to be fully implemented – although it has been signed into law, putting it into practice is dependent on regulations, national directives and instructions that need to be made by several departments;
  • Continuous research to make more data available for better understanding of human trafficking;
  • This research will also help in capacity building for practitioners;
  • The government must make sufficient resources available to fight human trafficking; and
  • Programmes must emphasise prevention of human trafficking through public education initiatives.

Raising awareness

Meanwhile, the multi-sectoral national task team set up by the government will embark on an aggressive educational awareness campaign building up to Child Protection Week, which runs from 27 May to 2 June. The team has spearheaded the development of the National Action Plan to fight human trafficking in South Africa.

It comprises the departments of Justice and Constitutional Development, Home Affairs and Social Development, as well as the National Prosecuting Authority, South African Police Service, civil society representatives and international organisations.

It will also work with provincial governments to revive the provincial and district human trafficking response teams. Investment will also be made into training practitioners in the identification and screening of victims.

According to the UN’s 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, in Africa and the Middle East between 2010 and 2012, sexual exploitation accounted for 53% of trafficking victims, while 37% were subjected to forced labour, servitude and modern day slavery.

While South Africa has put in place legislative measures to prevent human trafficking, the country is still a source, transit point, and destination country for men and women subjected to trafficking for forced labour and sexual exploitation.

In response, the Organised Crime Unit of the South African Police Services has set up the Human Trafficking Desk for a targeted response to the crime.

Furthermore, the Child Protection and International Social Services directorates in the Department of Social Development are implementing a strategy for the prevention of child trafficking and supporting foreign child victims in the process of repatriation. The Child Protection Directorate also ensures the safe return of South African child victims and unaccompanied South African minors to their families and legal guardians in South Africa.

The roundtable discussion sought to strengthen the partnership between stakeholders in the fight against human trafficking, share best practices in the prevention and combating of human trafficking in South Africa, as well as promote an extensive and accelerated skills training programme for different role players and frontline personnel, among other things.

An indaba on human trafficking will be held in October to check progress on these undertakings and the implementation of the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act. The roundtable was held in Pretoria on 20 February.

SAinfo reporter