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Address by the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Hon JH Jeffery, MP, at the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Data Orientation Workshop, held at Burgers Park Hotel, Pretoria, 21 May 2018

Programme Director,
Regional Representative of UNODC South Africa, Ms. Zhuldyz Akisheva
First Counsellor and Head of Section for Governance, Social Sectors and Culture at the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of South Africa, Mr Manuel Iglesias-Roa
National Project Officer UNODC-GLO.ACT, Mr Banele Kunene
Representatives from civil society,
Representatives from the IOM,
Ladies and gentlemen, friends  

Some of you may have read in the media about two men who were convicted on eight charges in the Johannesburg High Court last month after trafficking at least four women from Upington, in the Northern Cape, and forcing them into sexual slavery.

Judge Moosa’s judgment describes how one women had been physically, emotionally and sexually abused by her captors. She was 19 years old when she met a member of the trafficking ring who had offered her employment in Johannesburg.

The judgment says that young people in the Northern Cape are desperate to escape unemployment and poverty, which was why the offer had been so tempting.

When she arrived in Gauteng, the young woman was brought to the home rented out by the two men. Three other women, two of whom claimed to be the men’s girlfriends, convinced her to listen to the two men or face severe beatings.

She was forced to take crystal meth and other drugs, pose nude for an escort website, and taken to the homes of men who paid to have sex with her.

For three months this continued. The woman said she felt trapped because not only was she almost always under the influence of drugs, but her captors threatened to “slaughter” her child and kill her relatives if she tried to contact them.

Eventually, in 2016, she worked up the courage to contact her adoptive mother, who is a member of the SAPS, and another relative after managing to secure a cellular phone.

Judge Moosa said: “The abuse she suffered led her to believe she had no alternative but to submit.” He found the pair guilty on six different human trafficking charges, as well as kidnapping.

This is but one case - of a young person desperately looking for work – being trafficked, that we know of.  But there are, no doubt, many others like her.

This workshop will be focusing specifically on data. Data collection is a vital part of the fight against trafficking in persons – it tells us who the victims are, where they are and how to direct our law enforcement responses accordingly.

The UNODC’s 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons tells us that over the last 10 years, the profile of detected trafficking victims has changed.

Although most detected victims are still women, children and men now make up larger shares of the total number of victims than they did a decade ago.

In 2014, children comprised 28% of detected victims, and men, 21%. In parallel with the significant increases in the share of men among detected trafficking victims, the share of victims who are trafficked for forced labour has also increased.

The report further tells us that traffickers and their victims often come from the same place and speak the same language.
Such commonalities help traffickers generate trust to carry out the trafficking crime. Traffickers rarely travel abroad in order to recruit victims, but they do travel to destination countries to exploit them.

As general pattern, traffickers in destination countries are either citizens of these countries or have the same citizenship as the victims they trafficked.

Trafficking for sexual exploitation and for forced labour are the most prominently detected forms, but trafficking victims can also be exploited in many other ways. Victims are trafficked to be used as beggars, for forced or sham marriages, benefit fraud, production of pornography or for organ removal, to mention some of the forms countries have reported.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, a majority of the detected victims are children.  There are several reasons, such as demographics, socioeconomic factors and countries’ institutional frameworks and priorities. There also seems to be a relation between a country’s level of development and the age of detected trafficking victims. In the least developed countries, children often comprise large shares of the detected victims.

In South Africa, there is currently no systematic collection and analysis of data on trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants.

Therefore, there is currently no integrated information management system for human trafficking offenders and victims.

This gap hinders government’s policy response to enforce and implement our TIP Act. In terms of trafficking, different departments produce their own statistics, disaggregated according to different parameters.

Data collection is also hampered by gaps in the identification of trafficking in persons, particularly those trafficked for purposes other than sexual exploitation.

According to section 41 (b) of our TIP Act there needs to be an establishment of an integrated information system to facilitate the effective monitoring and implementation of the Act and to recommend interventions relating to trafficking in persons by collating and analysing statistical information with the view to determining, among others; from which countries victims are being trafficked to South Africa; to which countries South African citizens and other residents are being trafficked; the nationality of victims transiting the Republic of South Africa and the countries to which they are being trafficked.

Today’s workshop is in-line with the GLO.ACT’s strategic objective number 4, which is Strategy and Policy.

The aim of this workshop is to understand the deployment method of the data collection system.

The UNODC and the SADC Secretariat has custom designed and developed a data collection and management system for the SADC region, which was initially piloted in Lesotho and Swaziland.

With regards to Lesotho, I am told that in February last year, UNODC handed over equipment to the Lesotho Ministry of Home Affairs, to enhance Lesotho’s data collection capacities on trafficking in persons. Lesotho was one of the pilot countries in which the UNODC-SADC Regional Trafficking in Persons Data Collection System was rolled out.

At the onset of the project in 2014 and during the course of 2015, UNODC provided the Secretariat of the Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee on Trafficking in Persons, with basic start-up equipment for data collection purposes, as well as training and support to maintain the system.

During the course of 2016 UNODC trained 70 officials from Lesotho, including police, immigration, social workers and prosecutors in border towns Mafiteng and Maputsoe on identification and reporting of trafficking in persons cases in order ensure that key districts were in a position to contribute effectively to the national TIP data collection efforts.

In addition to the pilot countries mentioned, the system has also been rolled out in Botswana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The system consists of a national data hub housed at the SADC Secretariat of the Anti-Trafficking Inter-ministerial Committee into which different stakeholders in the response to TIP input data periodically. 

SADC member states include certain standard information in the national data collection tool in order to facilitate information sharing and cooperation within the region.

I want to wish you all a very successful and productive workshop.

The objectives of this workshop are to establish TIP data working groups and to develop a roadmap for the establishment of an Integrated Information Management System. Furthermore, the workshop is aimed at exchanging experiences of the UNODC/SADC TIP Tool and to identify the current gaps in TIP data collection in South Africa and how a possible harmonisation of the collected data by various government departments can be done.

I also want to mention some of the other initiatives that we are undertaking with civil society - such as the Love Justice Model, in collaboration with the Department of Home Affairs, at OR Tambo International Airport, where more than 275 individuals were identified as potential victims since April 2016.

Lastly, let me once again extend our sincere appreciation to our GLO.ACT partners for their invaluable contributions and support.

Human trafficking steals people’s lives.

If we are serious about human rights, we must eradicate all forms of trafficking.

I thank you.