Last night I spoke to an anti-human trafficking initiative called Lucy International that can be found on the web at https://www.lucyint.org and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stoptraffickingSA. I volunteered my time and legal knowledge to assist Lucy. Doing some research before the meeting, I found 10 common law crimes habitually and repeatedly committed against the victims ranging from rape to murder and much more. South Africa, with its progressive Constitution, has no less than 17 Acts against human trafficking. That in itself means nothing - law, as you should know, is not an exact science and for the insane to begin with, all must be combined to be effective in court which makes it complicated. Human trafficking is thus a serious issue even if one of those forgotten crimes which no one seems to want to know about. Internationally, I found more than 30 Conventions and Protocols against human trafficking.
I don’t want to speak legalese, it is not for decent people, but the definition for human trafficking - I call it “white slavery” - is set out in the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. This Protocol is known as the “Palermo Protocol” or “Trafficking Protocol” and section 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol states “Trafficking in Persons (TIP) shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of office or of a position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labouror services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, services or the removal of organs.”
As you may gather this is a very broad definition and what is interesting that no victim “consent” can be used as a legal defence. As much as you cannot agree / consent to be murdered, raped to be cured of whatever ails you – this happened with a witch doctor – or have underage sex, you cannot in law agree to be trafficked. Such consent is null and void and incorporated in all laws against the evil because evil is what it is, the most atrocious crime known to me. In South Africa, we have the Prevention and Combating Trafficking in Persons Act of 2013, as amended, as the primary weapon against the traffickers and yet that is not enough. The evil is growing unabated. I often say to you in my legal books that the law is neutral. It will not come alive and defend you, you have to invoke the law and abuse it, yes, abuse, to your own advantage. Otherwise, it stays a piece of paper without any known effect.
For a long time in South Africa, we had no Bill of Human Rights. We followed the UK’s Westminster System of Parliamentarian Sovereignty meaning that once a law is voted on in the prescribed manner, passed and signed by the main turd – president for you – then it is the law and since no law is ever promulgated to be without effect, it will be enforced. In my biography, the Mean Streets Books, based on my experiences as a policeman between 1985-1991, I often described how this system led to serious political abuse. Fundamentally, any law could and was promulgated, nothing held the turd brigade – politicians, they float in what they talk – back, except their consciences of which they had none to begin with. I used the examples as warnings on what happens when a highly disciplined, trained, and effective, I dare say, Police Force are told to enforce laws that are inherently wrong, they go out and do what is necessary. Some called me a “kafferboetie” and others “a racist” for the statements based on facts and law. You may deduct then that man cannot be trusted to do the “right thing” and thus the law is there for your protection, none so much as the Bill of Human Rights. And although the Bill of Human Rights is needed and I fully support it, when taken too far it has unintended consequences. I had to smile wryly when I read the below, taken from a UNESCO paper, on why South Africa became a hub for human trafficking:
“The repressive sexual ideology of the apartheid years, that sanctified heterosexual relationships within marriage, stigmatized prostitution and confined all sexual encounters within its rigid racist boundaries, has changed dramatically. Since 1994 the strict sexual mores and conservatism have relaxed under one of the world’s most progressive Constitutions, that guarantees protection from discrimination on the basis of gender and of sexual orientation. Homosexuality, taboo and criminalized under the apartheid dispensation, has crossed racial boundaries and is legally protected. Cape Town has emerged as a centre for cruising in bars, discos and saunas, with homosexual sex reputed to be available for the price of a mobile phone, food, cars and the chance of a better life. Whatever the truth about conditions of relative wealth and poverty that lie behind South Africa’s image, it is the image that counts. Along with the migrant populations come the attendant exploiters to capitalize on their vulnerability, ready to satisfy the demands of the diverse and complex ‘rainbow’ society – which may well be turning South Africa into the ‘hub’ of human trafficking.”
However that may be, this is a serious issue. I ask, with all the laws, why is it that Lucy gave me startling facts that you are welcome to check: “Human Trafficking, also known as modern slavery, is the fastest growing crime in the world. Globally, around 43 million adults and children are being kept in slavery. These staggering statistics of enslavement translate into what would be almost 90% of South Africa's population. The predators behind modern slavery are showing a profit of about $32 billion every year, which is almost half of Bill Gates net worth. Sex slavery victims are estimated to be at the average age of 11, with the business of human trafficking still operating, without conscience, all over the world. In South Africa, a child goes missing every five hours, with only one in every 4 children ever being found again.”
I have no words, this is shocking because that means that your kids, grandkids, and mine, are in danger, serious danger. Do you know what the biggest problem is in keeping them safe? UNESCO identified the number one risk for us and Lucy agrees: “While there is increased international attention to the problem of trafficking and governments, including South Africa, together with an array of stakeholders are providing information, publicity campaigns and training, the level of awareness in the population remains low. The common belief that “it cannot happen to me” apparently remains strong despite local familiarity with cross-border and internal trafficking. The offers of employment for young women, the offers to locate young children in better circumstances are generally accepted at face value (see IOM 2003). Acquaintance with trafficking recruiters, who may well be neighbours or family, further reduces the acknowledgement of the trafficking risk.”
In other words, awareness is low, people just don’t know and cannot believe they are at risk because this happens in other places with other people. It is not, listen to me, this is happening right here where you are. Contact people like Lucy for more details. Find out more, do something. Spread the word, stop being passive and uncaring. You know who is abused around you, you know your community or should, raise the alarm.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. During his police years, he was awarded the South African Police Medal for Combating Terrorism twice besides lesser awards. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a commercial law attorney for eight years. These days he is the owner of JKLS Africa and Associates, a specialist legal consultancy which specializes in reducing legal risk in sub Saharan Africa. He wrote several books on business, law, counter-terrorism and security issues. At times he is asked to participate on the Voice of America regarding legal forensic matters.