Lured into sex slavery

The police are warning young Namibians to beware of promises of lucrative jobs abroad.

20 August 2019 | Crime

The police have warned young Namibians of traffickers who lure jobseekers with false promises of jobs into forced labour or sex enslavement in foreign countries.

The statement was issued alongside statistics that indicate 48 cases of human trafficking have been recorded countrywide since 2010. Of these, 13 cases were finalised and six people were convicted.

About 15 cases are still being investigated, while 20 are on the court roll.

The police said human trafficking cases are on the rise globally and Namibia is no exception. Among the recruitment strategies seen by law enforcement, is a new modus operandi in which traffickers target young Namibians, especially women, through advertisements offering lucrative jobs in foreign countries.

Once the victims arrive their personal papers are confiscated and they are denied free movement.

During the day they are forced into domestic jobs while at night many have been forced to sell drugs or engage in illegal sexual activities.

“These people literally become slaves,” NamPol Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi wrote in the statement.

“As we speak, there are a number of Namibians in foreign countries that have been trafficked in this manner, and investigations are under way.” He warned Namibians to beware of this scam and to liaise with the local Interpol Bureau to verify the authenticity of foreign job offers before agreeing to them.

Moreover, the police warned that while women and children are particularly vulnerable to traffickers and their strategies, “men are no exception in today's world”.





Human trafficking does not necessarily include movement from one country to another. The criteria for human trafficking boils down to the trade of people through acts of exploitation and enslavement into forced labour or sexual servitude through force, fraud or coercion.







Fresh statistics



Since 2015 Namibian courts have convicted six persons on charges of human trafficking, with two new convictions handed down in 2019.



The first conviction was that of Johanna Lukas in 2015. She was found guilty on five charges of trafficking in persons and five counts of rape. She was sent to prison for 13 years.



The court at the time found there was sufficient proof that Lukas had lured two teenage girls to be sexually exploited by a South African citizen, Marthinus Pretorius, in 2012.



Pretorius was extradited to Namibia and admitted guilt to the rape charges, but denied the trafficking charges. His trial continues.



Between 2016 and 2017, David Nauyala Shoombe was convicted on charges of trafficking in persons related to forced labour, and sentenced to 12 months behind bars.



In October 2018, Bertus Koch was convicted on charges of child trafficking and the sexual abuse of five minor girls. He received an eight-year prison sentence.



Henock Kaveto was convicted on charges related to child labour in 2018, and sentenced to three years' imprisonment or a fine of N$12 000.



This year, Dragan Vujicin, another South African male, was convicted on three charges of trafficking in persons and seven rape charges. He is serving a 35-year prison sentence.



The most recent conviction took place in the Windhoek High Court this month. Tuufilwa Ndawina Jonas (34) was found guilty on three counts of rape and three counts of human trafficking. The court has not handed down a sentence yet.







Watchdogs



Namibia remains classified as a Tier 2 country in the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report issued by the US State Department in June 2019. The classification indicates the government does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.



The TIP report did note that Namibia had increased efforts to protect trafficking victims, which included the identification of 21 trafficking victims, including five women, 10 girls, and six boys, and referred 14 victims to an NGO shelter, which was partially government funded.



Moreover, five Namibian child victims were reunited with their parents and two Zambian nationals were repatriated.



In 2017, 21 victims were identified. Seven of the victims were Namibian and 14 were foreign nationals from Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola.



The TIP report further noted that 13 victims were exploited in forced labour, including domestic servitude and cattle herding, seven were sex trafficking victims, and one victim was exploited in both sex trafficking and forced labour.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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