The rescue of 11 women suspected to be human trafficking victims in Northern Cape and North West recently has put human trafficking in the spotlight.
The United Nations defines human trafficking or trafficking in persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
According to the South African National Human Trafficking Hotline, current stats show that only 1% of victims are rescued.
Global Slave Index reveals that per 1000 people in the county, at least 2.8 are victims of being exploited and 54% of people show vulnerability indicators to being susceptible to trafficking.
SABC Digital News producer Lebo Tshangela (LT) speaks to Principal Communications Officer at the South African Police Service, Katlego Mogale (KM) about job scams linked to human trafficking in the country.
LT: The recent announcement by Statistics SA revealed that 2.2 million jobs were lost in the second quarter of 2020 and unemployment figures for the second quarter decreased to 23.3% from 30.1% in the first quarter. People are finding themselves in a vulnerable position economically. What is the modus operandi used in job scams by traffickers?
KM: The scams that are prevalent are those that are asking people to apply for jobs and mostly its online and they are made to be such lucrative jobs and the payment is high and they promise air ticket to and from where your job, once you get on holiday. They promise you that they will pay for your accommodation and wellbeing while you are there…. I don’t know how advertising should work, but all I know is that, if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t, how is it that you asked to apply for a job, that we are going to send you to a far off place where we pay your ticket to get there, where we pay you accommodation to stay there for an unspecified time frame and we will be able to send you home, basically as a person who exists in this world, you can’t have everything paid for you, somewhere somehow you need to verify that information that you receive in that advertisement because if you don’t find out if these people have a landline, you would necessarily have a physical address and some of these people they have offices of which today exists, tomorrow its nowhere to be found because you call the cell phone number and the cell phone number you can always throw away a sim card and get a new one and offices that are leased, sometimes they are leased for that one day.
LT: How can job seekers avoid being trafficked?
KM: You need to let somebody know that you have seen that advert and you yourself you must call and find out, what is your physical address, what is your landline because in most instances the contact details there are only a cell phone number and you ask for their physical address and their landline number and you go online and check with the registrars of companies if that company is registered, does it have a VAT number, those type of things… Once you pick up on the signs that this company is not registered anywhere, it doesn’t have a landline, those are the signs that you pick up, that is not what it seems and for you to let people know, where you are at all times, you let people know of that same advertisement, understandably people are desperate for jobs, so you keep it a secret, you actually putting your life in danger.
LT: According to Balance Careers, job scam ads can be identified by unprofessional emails, vague job requirements and description among other things. Mogale further describes how one can spot a job scam ad.
KM: Once you get an advert that is promising you more than you would ever fathom that is when you need to do due diligence, where you must find out because most of these adverts are either online or on social media, you need to verify where that company is, does it exist? Does it have a physical address? Is there a landline that you can call? There are many other departments where you can verify the validity of a company, like you department of labour and the registry of companies …In most instances, these jobs are advertised online, be it on social media, be it Instagram, Facebook or some of them you see people sending you messages via WhatApp, people that you don’t know, people that you don’t have contact with, human trafficking is basically that, human trafficking whether male or female or young, old, in most instances people are used for sexual exploitation, labour servitude and some of the younger girls are trafficked for marriage
LT: According to the Trafficking in Persons Report, South Africa is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. South African citizens and foreign nationals are subjected to human trafficking within the country. Mogale gives advice as to what to do when you believe you are about to be trafficked.
KM: I am hoping by then somebody knows, where you are that there are APPs that you can always have somebody following you, your movements via the GPS in your cell phone, so once you have that, you can press the panic button, so that somebody knows where you actually at and when you leave home you actually told somebody that you are going for an interview for argument sake in Pretoria or in Johannesburg. At least when you are not contacting them to tell them that you are not coming back home, to tell that you have arrived where you have the interview, they are able to tell the police that you went somewhere in Johannesburg, this is what they received from you.
LT: According to the International Organization for Migration, victims are most commonly trafficked within their home country or region of origin. For example, in North Africa, over 80% of detected trafficking victims were trafficked domestically, in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 100% of detected trafficking victims were trafficked within the same sub-region, a statistic closely followed by South Asia (99%), Sub-Saharan Africa (99%), East Asia and the Pacific (97%), and South America (93%). Mogale gives guidance on how to flee from traffickers when you are in a foreign country.
KM: Where you are in a different country, you should basically look for the embassy of South Africa there so that you are able to contact them, if you happen to make an escape, you must check where you are, your surroundings, if you happen to have to get an emergency number of the police that you can call, you will be able to describe the surrounding where you are.