Webinar held to Enlighten UKZN Community About Threats of Human Trafficking
To commemorate Human Trafficking Awareness Week and create campus safety awareness at UKZN, the Corporate Relations Division (CRD) organised a webinar targeting University students.
The webinar was held in partnership with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of South Africa and the KwaZulu-Natal Human Trafficking, Harmful Traditional Practices, Prostitution, Pornography and Brothels (HHPPB) Task Team.
Titled: Prevention and Combating of Human Trafficking, the event highlighted what human trafficking is, the characteristics of Human Trafficking, how to identify victims, how students can prevent being lured, duped and trafficked, and the dangers trafficked people face.
The webinar was facilitated by the Victim Assistant Officer at the Thuthuzela Care Centre from the NPA’s Sexual Offences and Community Affairs Unit (SOCA), Ms Cebile Fuse, while speakers included the NPA’s Senior State Advocate Ms Dawn Coleman-Malinga, Junior State Advocate and UKZN alumnus, Ms Samokelisiwe Hlongwane, and the Chief Operating Officer for STOP Trafficking of People, Ms Tershia de Klerk.
Coleman-Malinga said this year’s anti trafficking theme - “Victims Voices Lead the Way” - made it clear that victims were key factors in the fight against Human Trafficking, and played a crucial role in assisting with the development of effective measures to prevent the occurrence of the crime as well as identify, rescue and support victims on their road to rehabilitation. She advised the participants in the webinar to report any trafficking crimes while reminding them that trafficking was not always about women and children locked up in cages - exploitation could happen out in the open and in broad daylight.
She said characteristics of human trafficking included its occurrence both locally and internationally, and the fact that it could be perpetrated by one person or a criminal syndicate. Coleman-Malinga said victims could be recruited either informally with the promise of a job or money or by a threat of harm, force or coercion.
Coleman-Malinga said to secure a conviction in the case of adults, the NPA had to prove all the elements of the offence which include the Act (what), the Means (how) and the Purpose (why) while for children, only the Act and Purpose needed to be proven.
De Klerk echoed Coleman-Malinga’s sentiments adding that just 2% of victims were rescued or managed to escape. She said human trafficking was the fastest-growing illegal enterprise in the world and took place on a variety of fronts in South Africa, adding that it was often hidden by other crimes and took place in rural and urban areas.
On the subject of “job scams”, she advised students looking for employment to be alert for red flags which included the job sounding too good to be true, prospective employers only providing a cell phone number or communicating via WhatsApp, requesting a photo of the student, or a promise of higher pay with no qualifications needed. She advised students to always investigate the addresses given by prospective employers, and to be aware of jobs advertised on platforms such as Gumtree and Marketplace.
She said there was a free job scam vetting service titled: Prevention versus Cure - which could be contacted by phone or WhatsApp at 081 7207181 or through the website www.preventionversuscure.com De Klerk advised students to download safety apps such as Namola which provided information on their whereabouts or The Freedom App, which gave an indication about whether a job opportunity or offer was legitimate.
Hlongwane said traffickers first established the vulnerability of intended victims and then used certain methods to gain control over them, isolating them through deception, religion, culture and beliefs. Once victims were under their control, traffickers used a variety of measures to detain them, including drug addiction, confiscation or travel documents, blackmail and physical violence.
Hlongwane said with human trafficking being a high profit-low risk crime based on the principles of supply and demand, criminals took advantage of “push and pull” factors with individuals seeking better living conditions often ending up being part of the human trafficking chain. ‘Traffickers use the push and pull factors to trap their victims, with promises of a better life and increased opportunities.’
Senior State Advocate and Acting Head of the SOCA Unit for KwaZulu-Natal, Ms Omashani Naidoo thanked the panel members for sharing their expertise on how human trafficking affects South Africans and for the advice offered. She also thanked the UKZN team for working hard to ensure that through the webinars, the University community was more aware and armed with knowledge about the dangers of human trafficking.
• The 24-hour South African National Human Trafficking Hotline is 0800 222 777. For more information on STOP Trafficking of People, email de Klerk at: email@example.com
Words: Sithembile Shabangu