MISSING CHILDREN: Is human trafficking on the rise in Newcastle?

trafficking
Victims are often kept indoors at all times, sometimes under guard.

The kidnapping of a seven-month-old baby in oSizweni last month has parents fearful for their children’s safety.

ALSO READ: JUST IN: oSizweni SAPS needs help locating kidnapped baby

To determine the extent of this kind of crime, the Newcastle Advertiser met with Nokulunga Magubane of Life Line’s Newcastle Satellite Office in an exclusive interview this week.

“Human trafficking has become what we refer to as ‘modern day slavery’, because slavery continues to exist in present day society, but in a way that has become ‘socially acceptable’,” she said.

Magubane noted parallels between human trafficking and slavery, in that those stolen from their families were being used for slave labour, forced prostitution, forced marriage and the illegal harvesting of organs and body parts, as in times of old.

ALSO READ: Police launch nation wide search for oSizweni kidnapped baby, Luyanda

She said human trafficking was a direct violation of one’s human rights.

During her time in the social work sphere, Magubane said she had encountered cases of human trafficking, but said one could never be certain of the frequency or severity of these crimes in Newcastle specifically, or what age groups were most at risk.

This, she added, was because trafficking was considered a hidden crime.

Victims were often afraid to come forward to break the silence, and report the matter to local authorities, which Magubane said contributed to human trafficking being considered a so-called hidden crime.

“Victimology depends on the trafficker, in terms of who they see their target being and for the specific acts of trafficking they wish to participate in.”

Mabugane believed trafficking syndicates were operating in the Newcastle area, yet survivors and victims often only spoke about their traumatic experiences years after they had occurred.

ALSO READ: CRIME: Four Dannhauser teenagers arrested for kidnapping and rape

A recent national media report stated child kidnapping and human trafficking were on the increase.

According to this report, the crime had escalated over the years, with young girls and boys being targeted and a mere one percent of victims ever being found.

This problem has grown to sweep across the globe.

Captain Moothilal of the Newcastle Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit said it could not be speculated if human trafficking was ongoing in Newcastle, as many disappearances were related to people running away.

He said every case had to be thoroughly investigated before that determination could be made.

However, Cpt Moothilal urged parents to practice extreme caution with the safety of their children, to know their whereabouts at all times and to keep them away from strangers or even distant relatives.

“We are also still appealing for members of the community to come forward with any information regarding Baby Luyanda, who is still missing. I believe someone knows something and this can help find this little girl and bring her home safely,” he concluded.

A victim of human trafficking may show the following signs:

The person is malnourished.
They avoid direct eye contact.
They are antisocial or unsociable.
They isolate themselves.
They do not have identity documentation.
They live at the same place where they are employed.
They tend to work extremely long hours without rest.
They suffer with untreated sexually transmitted infections.
They work despite being underage.
Their health is poor.
They are kept indoors at all times, sometimes under guard.
They are seen with older people of the opposite sex.
They have no personal items such as cellphones.
They are always fearful and nervous.

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  AUTHOR
Zianne Leibrandt

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