President Zuma signs new Trafficking Act into law
09 August 2015
President Jacob Zuma has signed the new Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2013 (Act No. 7 of 2013) into law with effect from today.
The signing of this Act comes at an opportune time when the country is commemorating Women’s Month which seeks to ensure the safety of women and protection of their interests
This new law will deal comprehensively with human trafficking in all its various forms and it provides for the protection of and assistance to victims of trafficking.
Life imprisonment is the maximum sentencing for convicted traffickers or a severe fine depending on each case brought forward. Extra-territorial jurisdiction is an important feature of the Act and South African courts will have jurisdiction in respect of acts committed outside South Africa if those acts would have been an offence under the Act had they been committed in South Africa.
The Act also enables the state to prosecute traffickers and confiscate their assets. In addition, it will provide mechanisms to the Department of Social Development in the eradication of “latter-day” slavery.
Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr John Jeffery says the finalization of this new law will help government deal with traffickers decisively and it was about time.
“Government made the scourge of trafficking its priority in the National Development Plan and measures have been put in place to ensure that this Act is implemented effectively.
We have ensured extensive training of personnel of the National Prosecuting Authority, South African Police Service, social workers from the Department of Social Development, the Judiciary and officials from Immigration and Home Affairs has already been undertaken”, he said.
In addition, he said that a multi-agency programme to coordinate strategic action against trafficking has been established. This includes the setting up of Provincial Task Teams which include all relevant stakeholders in the Criminal Justice System.
Furthermore, a multi-disciplinary, interdepartmental Priority Committee has been established within the Cluster to coordinate activities relating to the combating of trafficking in and smuggling of persons. This is part of the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster Departments’ aim to deal with combating and trafficking of persons and to ensure that all persons in South Africa are and feel safe.
The Act further provides for social service professionals to play a role in the reporting, identification and assessment of a person who is a victim of trafficking. Once this is confirmed, the victim is entitled to be placed under an approved programme; child victims are to be placed in temporary safe care. Such programmes will offer accommodation, counseling and rehabilitation services as well as aim to reintegrate the victim back into their families and communities. The programme also offers education and skills development training for adults.
Child victims of trafficking will fall under all the protective measures of the Children’s Act, whilst organizations that provide services to adult victims must be accredited and must comply with certain norms and standards and must offer specific programmes to victims of trafficking.
Even though there was no legislation dealing with this scourge, government prides itself that there have been some convictions of traffickers who were charged with kidnapping, common assault, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, extortion, attempted murder and murder.
Since 2009, there have been ten convictions in trafficking cases, mainly for sexual exploitation of children and other acts.
Issued by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
Enquiries: Advocate Mthunzi Mhaga
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