“In particular‚ cases of forced labour remain largely unaddressed in South Africa‚ despite contentions that it accounts for the majority of victims‚" says Dr Monique Emser‚ a member of the KwaZulu-Natal Human Trafficking‚ Prostitution‚ Pornography and Brothels Task Team‚ who has compiled a report on human trafficking awareness in South Africa.
“In 2015‚ not a single case of forced labour was prosecuted.
“A lack of resources and capacity are also thought to stymie official efforts to counter-trafficking domestically‚” Emser said.
Emser’s statement comes against the backdrop of the discovery of 57 undocumented Malawian children by North West police on Sunday.
A police patrol stopped a suspicious truck driving at high speed in the early hours.
“On investigation and during the search‚ fifty seven (57) undocumented children aged between 11 and 21 years were found in the back of a delivery truck‚ which is without windows.
“Eighteen (18) of these children are girls (females) while thirty nine (39) of them are boys (males). These children were transported by the three adult occupants including the driver who are Malawian nationals. These adults could not provide a satisfactory account on the status of all the children‚” the police said in a statement.
The driver and his two companions were arrested for human trafficking.
“An investigation is currently under way which involves authorities and law enforcement agencies including engagements with our counterparts in Malawi‚” said the police.
According to Emser‚ there are at least 21 million people who are victims of forced labour across the world. Many of these come from Asia and Africa‚ she said.
“And this is a conservative estimate. Of this number‚ less than one percent of victims are identified each year.”
“Men‚ women and children are trafficked for forced labour in agriculture‚ construction‚ mining‚ fishing‚ manufacturing‚ domestic work‚ hospitality‚ begging‚ entertainment‚ and for sexual exploitation.
“They are often lured by false promises of jobs‚ education or to pay off debts. The forced recruitment of children to fight in conflicts‚ organ and body part trafficking‚ and forced marriage are also a sad reality‚” Emser said.