Regional effort to stop human trafficking

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Johannesburg - South Africa’s National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole says the rise in kidnappings has prompted the government to engage all Southern African Development Community member states as well the International Police Organisation (Interpol) to put a stop to human trafficking.

SADC has highlighted trafficking in persons as one of the fastest-growing crimes in the region, saying networks involved the crime were likely scaling up their activities because law enforcement agencies were presently preoccupied with matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Briefing the media this week, South Africa’s police chief said a multinational approach was required to deal with the problem.

“At transnational level, we have got transnational organised crime operations that we share with the neighbouring countries – the SADC countries. But it is also a crime that we are looking at Interpol level. These are integrated and multi-disciplinary investigations. We are also working on transnational crime prevention framework,” said Sitole.

Reports of human trafficking have been on the rise in South Africa, and police are understood to be investigating a syndicate operating out of Mangaung.

In Limpopo, a series of viral social media messages have come out pointing to a surge in kidnapping and human trafficking of women.

However, Police Minister Beki Cele warned the public against peddling fake stories about human trafficking and kidnappings.

“There is a lot of fake news because it is known people are scared and sensitive about the matter. Many people gave addresses of places where they said this is happening. Those places have been checked. One of these places was found to be a police barracks, and another was found to be a financial institution where people were doing legitimate business,” said Minister Cele.

According to the International Labour Organisation, human trafficking is taking place in virtually every country in the world either as the source, transit route or destination.

“Measures taken across the globe to fight the global pandemic have substantially inhibited individual liberties and the movements of people. The instability at home and the absence of work are some of the factors that push women into selling sex and sex traffickers into exploiting them further,” says the ILO.

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