Namibian link in SA sex slave drama
29 September 2020 | Crime
South Africa's elite Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, known as the Hawks, has unravelled a transborder trafficking syndicate, with some of the sex traffickers claiming that the enslaved women were Namibian.
However, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said it was later uncovered that this claim was a ruse to conceal the true identities of the victims.
Police inspector-general Sebastian Ndeitunga yesterday confirmed that Namibia's Pretoria-based diplomatic liaison officer had spoken to Mulaudzi and confirmed there are no Namibians involved.
Ndeitunga added he is worried that human trafficking has “taken a different shape” and “is no longer in the traditional phase”. He said sex workers are increasingly being trafficked from one country to another. “Human trafficking is now a wider net. The traditional concept is that people were trafficked for organs or cheap labour.
Also, Namibians who bring young Angolans and Zambians to work on their farms should know that employing these people without work permits constitutes human trafficking,” Ndeitunga stressed.
He warned Namibian women, who he said are more at risk, not to engage in activities or employment dealings with people they do not know.
Ndeitunga said traffickers are using the lure of employment, especially because of Namibia's massive unemployment rate among the youth of 46%, according to Namibia Statistics Agency figures.
Sex traffickers often also confiscate the passports of those they have successfully lured into their clutches.
“Be careful as these people help you cross the border, confiscate your passports and make you sex slaves in other countries. The police cannot intervene immediately if they are not aware, but we remain vigilant,” Ndeitunga added.
Five Nigerian nationals were arrested and charged with human trafficking in South Africa yesterday after 11 women were found to be working as prostitutes in South African brothels masquerading as bed-and-breakfast establishments.
Two of the men were arrested in Rustenburg and three at Kuruman on Sunday morning at around 06:00.
When the Hawks arrived at three properties, they found six South African women, three Lesotho nationals, one woman from Zimbabwe and another from Zambia.
Media reports over the weekend indicated that Namibian women had been trafficked as well.
Mulaudzi said unemployment often leads to women being trafficked because they are tricked into thinking they would be offered cushy jobs, which is often not the case. Mulaudzi added that the women were in a satisfactory condition.
“They are fine. We are handing them over to the department of social development and they will be kept in a safe place of custody.”
Mulaudzi said human trafficking was being managed well within southern Africa.
“There is a perception that things are out of control. We take this matter very seriously,” Mulaudzi said.