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‘Creating soulless zombies’

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Human trafficking on the rise in the Northern Cape

STOP: The Salvation Army, in partnership with the SAPS, held a Stop Human Trafficking event at the Galeshewe Pick n Pay Circle on Saturday morning. Picture: Danie van der Lith

WHILE two men appeared in the Johannesburg High Court last week for allegedly tricking a young woman from the Northern Cape into prostitution with promises of a job, it came to light at the weekend that human trafficking is on the rise in the Province.

This is according to the Salvation Army, who, together with the Hawks and the Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison, presented an anti-human trafficking event in Galeshewe on the weekend.

Ross Henderson, from the Salvation Army, called on communities to “unite in an endeavour to mobilise society, together with community structures, in fighting against human trafficking” that is on the rise in the Northern Cape.

The MEC for Transport, Safety and Liaison, Pauline Williams, said that human trafficking is an “evil that exists in our communities that many are not aware of”.

“Trafficking in persons is an insidious, underground, well-orchestrated, immoral and ruthless practice that attacks our young people at the heart of their human dignity, robs them of a bright future and renders them at the mercy of faceless evildoers,” Williams said.

“The act of trafficking in persons is as scary as it is cold blooded. These relationships are characterised by older men and women, sometimes in positions of family trust, employing several tactics, including violence or the threat thereof, to bait young girls into relationships of depravity and corruptness.

“These faceless monsters buy young girls and boys gifts and give them alcohol and drugs to create dependency. They attack at the heart of our young people’s resistance and create soulless zombies who, with no help or assistance, have no hope for a life lived with honour and promise.”

She added that girls and boys were removed from their homes and prevented access to their family – disappearing for periods and being locked up in houses where they may be used in the sex trade.

“They are lured with promises of money and prosperity only to find themselves trapped in awful conditions with no hope of escaping. What is so horrible about this situation is that sometimes, even if they do have the opportunity to escape, the shame of what they were forced to do may render them unwilling to face the world in the light again.”

Williams further stated that the department had already done surveys to try and understand the scope and reach of this issue and to determine how best it could move forward in creating awareness, ensuring that children were taught how to be safe and empowering parents and teachers to best identify the warning signs and to know how to report it.

Williams said poverty often made parents turn a blind eye to the danger signs of potential human trafficking.

“We see our children coming home with new tekkies and cellphones and hand over some money, but because we do not have the means or do not have work we turn a blind eye. It is a treacherous shame that we, as parents, allow this practice to flourish, which destroys the souls of our children.”

She concluded by calling on parents, teachers and church leaders to know the warning signs of human trafficking and to stop the violence against women, children and vulnerable groups.