The police have responded to the public outcry regarding human trafficking in SA.
In a statement on Tuesday, police spokesperson Brig Vishnu Naidoo said national SAPS commissioner Gen Khehla John Sitole has highlighted the seriousness with which human trafficking and related crimes are being dealt with by the police and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks).
Naidoo cited a recent incident in which a man was captured on CCTV footage attempting to grab a four-year-old girl while under the watchful eye of her mother at a pizza shop in Florida, west of Johannesburg, last week.
“The incident that occurred on September 10 is a stark reminder of the realities of these type of crimes,” he said. “While the suspect was charged with assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and that this was not a case of human trafficking, this has been a reminder to both the authorities as well as every inhabitant of this country of the level of vigilance we need to employ to ensure that people are and feel safe.”
The statement from the police comes in the wake of the #HumanTrafficking hashtag being used over the past few weeks to help women and children become aware of the increasing alleged human trafficking hotspots all over the country.
The movement garnered the support of celebrities who used their social media influence to draw attention to the dangers of human trafficking.
Naidoo said while human trafficking is not as prevalent in SA as it is in some other parts of the world, people must adopt a collective approach to ensure that not a single person — man, woman or child — becomes a victim of this crime.
“We have had sporadic reports in the past of young people, especially females, that were allegedly lured away from their homes on the promise of lucrative jobs, only to find themselves being trafficked for sex,” he said. “The cases of kidnappings, abductions and missing people are also areas of serious concern.”
He said the police together with other government departments have put both proactive and reactive interventions in place to decisively deal with such cases, adding that while the circumstances around such crimes may vary, they should always be reported immediately to the police.
“Each of these crimes is committed under different circumstances and with different motivations,” he said.
“People may be reported missing after a crime that may have been committed like murder, kidnapping, abduction — or the missing person may have just simply run away from home. Whatever the circumstances, such must be reported immediately to the police and there is no waiting period for such a matter to get reported.”
Naidoo clarified the difference between kidnapping and abduction.
“A person is deemed kidnapped if such a person is removed against his or her consent and deprived of his or her freedom of movement for ransom. A person is deemed abducted if such a person is removed from the custody of his or her parents for the purpose of marriage or sexual intercourse. However, if such a person is under the age of 16, then the act of sexual intercourse would constitute rape.”
The police once again appealed to the public for any information regarding such cases.
“We are appealing to anyone who may have information on these crime categories, preferably before they are committed, to contact the police on our Crime Stop number 086 00 10111. Information may also be communicated via the MySAPS App, an application which can be downloaded on any iPhone or Android.
“All information will be treated with strictest confidence and callers may remain anonymous.”
BY Orrin Singh