SA’s trafficking scourge crops up on KZN farm
Migrants were rescued from a Kokstad farm as police investigate a case of child labour and human trafficking
The Hawks in KwaZulu-Natal are investigating a case of human trafficking and child labour against a Kokstad farmer.
This comes after Hawks officers and officials from home affairs and social development raided a farm outside Kokstad and rescued 21 Mozambique nationals – 13 adults and eight children.
The children are currently being kept at a house of safety, and the adults are being kept at a Durban police station, awaiting deportation back to Mozambique.
Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed they were investigating a case of human trafficking against the owner of the farm.
“Currently the matter has been escalated to the Hawks to determine how the group managed to get into the country and ended up working on a farm,” Mulaudzi said.
He said no arrests had been made yet as they were still verifying some information and awaiting statements from social development officials.
“To this end, not much can be shared since this will compromise the investigations,” Mulaudzi said.
Mulaudzi, however, did acknowledge human trafficking within SA was increasing.
KZN social development spokesperson Ncumisa Fandesi also confirmed the raid.
Fandesi said: “Unfortunately, the department has not been able to interview them due to a language barrier. They all speak Portuguese and, by law, we also cannot disclose the location of rescued individuals to protect them.”
She said social workers were also still assessing them and would draw a proper plan for them afterwards.
This week, the owner of the farm refused to comment. “I am out of the country, please call me another day,” he said.
Kokstad police spokesperson Captain Dumisani Ngcongo said police received a tip-off from some of the farmworkers that there were illegal migrants working at the farm. On investigation, they found the 21 illegal migrants.
“These people were allegedly transported from Durban and were made to work in this farm. They didn’t have any documentation to identify themselves. We still investigating how and who was responsible for transporting them,” Ngcongo said.
Adrian Swamba of Future Family, a nongovernmental organisation for refugees, said what made trafficking so prevalent in SA was that the country had high levels of inequality and unemployment.
“We see domestic trafficking happening with a lot of our vulnerable unemployed youth being willing to go to economic hubs in search for jobs,” Swamba said, adding that among the vulnerable to trafficking were migrants who came to SA in search of work.
He said his organisation worked in four ports of entry in SA‚ and had intercepted hundreds of potential victims of trafficking since it started operating in the country in 2018.
He said the NGO identified potential victims at the ports of entry‚ notified and brought in law enforcement officers‚ interviewed the potential victims‚ and then helped them to go home.
End Human Trafficking Now has identified human trafficking as the second biggest profit-making crime in the world next to drug trafficking, and says there are about 27 million people enslaved in the world today.
According to the End Human Trafficking Now website, more than two million people in Africa are trafficked annually, and of this number, there is an estimated 30,000 children as young as four who are being prostituted in SA.
End Human Trafficking Now states there are up to 10,000 child prostitutes in Johannesburg and up to 1,000 girls trafficked to SA from Mozambique each year.
“KwaZulu-Natal is the main recruitment area for victims of human trafficking. Combating trafficking has become a major challenge, especially with perpetrators using social media,” the NGO states.
Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza confirmed his department was aware of the raid in Kokstad.
“The matter is between the police and social development. Our officials are ready to facilitate the deportation of the foreign nationals after the police have concluded their process,” Qoza said.