Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

Be wary of the following situations. Regard them as potentially dangerous:

How to prevent being trafficked

  • An attractive job is offered to you that is far away from home — in another province or country. It may be a modelling contract, a waitressing job, or a contract with a soccer club. These offers may appear in newspapers or you may hear of them via word of mouth.
  • No qualifications are required and free housing and transport is offered with the job, plus the free processing of your visa and/or work permit.
  • The people you are dealing with organise for you to cross a border illegally.
  • A friend or relative offers to send you to an expensive/good school that is far from home and offers to pay your school fees.
  • Travel documents that were obtained by illegal means, are given to you.
  • A recruitment agent tells you that a visitor’s or tourist visa is good enough for working purposes.
  • Someone with whom you are chatting on MXIT wants to meet with you face to face (to offer you work or a free holiday or an academic scholarship)

How to ensure that a prospective employer is genuine:

  • Call them on a LAND line to confirm they are a legitimate company and are recruiting. (Be wary of a company that has only a cell number or free web-based email address, such as Hotmail, Yahoo, Google mail etc.)
  • Sign a contract with your employer before you leave your home country. A good employer would not object to this. The contract should state your terms of employment (i.e. wages, costs deducted for travel expenses and housing, your duties, working hours). You can do this through email or regular mail. You can even ask your employer for references.
  • Call the South African Chamber of Commerce and check that the recruiting company is a registered company.
  • Before accepting a job in a foreign country, check on the immigration website and find out for yourself what the visa requirements are.

Other important tips to protect yourself from being trafficked

  • Travel with contacts. Carry the number of your embassy in the country to which you are relocating. Inform your embassy when you arrive. Have a list of phone numbers of friends or contacts in the host country. Call them when you arrive.
  • Travel with an emergency plan. Provide your family members back home with all of your contact details. Call them and give them your new phone number and address when you arrive, as well as the phone number of your embassy and the local police. Should something go wrong and you lose contact with them, or they cannot reach you, have them call your embassy, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the local police on your behalf.
  • Travel with a copy of your passport. Do not give your passport to anyone! It is illegal for your employer to ask to hold your passport for any reason.
  • Know your rights. No one has the right to force you to do something or keep you against your will. If you are trafficked, you are the victim of a crime. You may have entered a country illegally, but you still have rights. You may be in “debt” to your trafficker, but this is not a legal debt. You do not have to honour it. If your human rights are being violated, you are the victim of a crime.

How to help prevent trafficking in your community

  • Tell your friends and neighbours how to protect themselves from being trafficked.
  • Learn to recognize trafficked persons.
    • They are often unable to speak the local language.
    • They appear to be trapped in their job or the place they stay.
    • They may have bruises and other signs of physical abuse.
    • They do not have identification documents (passport, ID, refugee or asylum papers).
  • Report places where you suspect trafficked people are kept (for example, brothels,farms, factories, shebeens) to the local authorities and the media.   
  • Report people you suspect may be traffickers to the local authorities (police, NGOs) and the media. (Source: World Hope South Africa, Schools curriculum)

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