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Molo Songololo (2005), a children’s rights organisation, reports that between 17, as many as 36 169 slaves were brought from Indonesia, Java, Ceylon, India, the East Indies, Mauritius, Malaysia and other countries to South Africa to work in mines, and as domestic workers.
This was a practice instituted by the colonial authorities to boost the southern African economy by importing cheap labour.
Since then, academic institutions and civil organisations have increasingly been reporting on the subject of internal and external human trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Furthermore, government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are raising awareness on the topic, educating South African citizens about this form of crime.
In between these research reports, newspapers, television documentaries, workshops, seminars and conferences have provided evidence of the prevalence of internal trafficking.
A criminal investigator aligned with the Organised Crime Unit of the SAPS in Port Elizabeth has also exposed organised Nigerian syndicates trafficking children from city centres to city centres across South Africa (Van der Watt, 2009).
Only approximately 5% of reported and prosecuted sexual violence cases receive a custodial sentence (Sigsworth, 2008).
Regardless of the large amount of research and scholarly work on human trafficking, there is currently still no specific law to prosecute the crime in the country – South Africa literally does not have a crime called human trafficking.
The conditions within which the trafficked children were held was described by one of the investigators as ‘deplorable, not fit for a pig and downright shameful’ (UNODC, 2007).Internal trafficking also has historical origins dating back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.At the turn of the century, a criminal leader called Nongoloza Mathebula (1867-1948) and his gang abducted and kidnapped women and boys from neighbouring areas to the mine compounds and kept them as sex slaves in the wake of the discovery of sexually transmitted diseases among prostitutes selling their bodies to mine workers (Van Onselen, 1998).The promises made to her in her country of origin were not fulfilled – instead, her naked live body was displayed as an object of attraction for everybody to view.She eventually died in France, where her private parts were put on display in a museum.
As illustrated in Figure 1 below, for the period from 2009 to 2010, the SAPS recorded approximately 2.1 million criminal cases: 31.9% of these cases were contact crimes (Sigsworth, 2008).