The involvement of organised crime in human trafficking has been identified by the IOM (Martens et al 2003; Bermudez 2008), which has tracked the trafficking of people from Thailand, China and Eastern Europe to South Africa. Organised crime has included networks from Russia, Italy, Nigeria, Morocco and China commonly involves the import and export of illicit goods, drugs and illicit trafficking, including of persons (Williams & Brooks 1999: 81-99).
Molo Songololo (2000) has identified elements of organised crime in the trafficking of children to the Western Cape. According to Bermudez (2008: 60), not only are international organised crime syndicates operating transnationally, they are also involved in internal trafficking, often using local South Africans as recruiters. Bermudez (2008: 60) identifies Nigerian organised crime syndicates operating in Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein where they are predominantly involved in the trafficking local black South African females into commercial sexual exploitation. It was also found that organised crime syndicates that are operated by foreign nationals use local South Africans as recruiters.
They are also involved in the recruitment of boys from rural regions of the Western and Northern Cape provinces for exploitative labour as street vendors in Cape Town. Men and boys are recruited to work on farms under false promises of pay and suitable accommodation. Boys who are not in school or on school holiday are more frequently targeted.
Regarding transnational trafficking, research reveals that the main supply source outside of the African continent for victims destined for South Africa is Thailand. However, respondents also revealed cases of Russian and Ukrainian nationals being trafficking within the borders of South Africa via the same organised crime networks.
Through this probe, several ‘hot spots’ were identified. As time constraints precluded random probes throughout the entire country, the study focussed on these hot spots:
- Gauteng – with the focus on Pretoria and Johannesburg;
- Northwest – focus on Rustenburg;
- Free State – focus on Bloemfontein and Lesotho/Maseru border;
- KwaZulu-Natal – focus on Durban and the harbour;
- Western Cape – focus on Cape Town and the harbour;
- Eastern Cape – focus on Port Elisabeth surroundings and harbour;
- Limpopo – focus on Messina border (Beit Bridge); and
- Mpumalanga – Lebombo border.
Source: National Presecuting Authority of South Africa