According to the Missing Persons Bureau Report, a child goes missing every five hours in South Africa.
Trafficking children is a universal problem that is affecting a big number of children. The reality of child trafficking is shocking and irrefutable. Every day on twitter there is an alert of a missing child and young adults in their early 20’s. Some children are unfortunately found sexually and physically assaulted and worse murdered, while others go missing without a trace.
During the Tsohang Batjha Library meeting, reading one of the stories from the book Batjha Kaofela, titled Human Trafficking, one of the library members shared his experience of how he almost fell in to the trap of traffickers who wanted to lure him.
Tshifiwa Ritshidze, 14, was on his way to Khanya when three men in Doorfontein stopped and asked him to accompany them to a warehouse to help them carry out books.
“I was passing Bp garage, when three men approached me and asked me nicely, actually begging me to go with them to a warehouse to help them carry boxes of books. They said they will pay me R150, at first I wanted to go but I became suspicious when I noticed one of them was restless and kept looking around, when I told them I can’t accompany them they stopped being nice and got aggressive. I looked around and ran away.”
After Tshifiwa shared his story, five more TB members came forward with a similar story of how they were approached by men and some women asking to accompany them to unknown places and promised money in return.
Welcome Ndlovu, 14, said he was stopped on his way from school when an unknown man offered to give him R100 if he helped him carry boxes from an organisation ‘around the corner’.
“The man was clean and spoke nicely, he was convincing, fortunately for me I was in a rush, when I told him to ask someone else, he became impatient and started forcing me to go with him. I was a bit scared but there were people around and I managed to run away.”
Children are often recruited or transported to places unknown to them where they are exploited and forced to work, and at times they are sold for sexual exploitation.
In the beginning of the year the 2017 between January and March, 15 children had been saved from being trafficked at OR Tambo International Airport.
Three years ago, government revised its immigration laws, hoping to curb trafficking. The law requires all travelling minors to produce an unabridged birth certificate, and a letter of parental consent if the child is not travelling with both parents.
Precious Rajane is a youth project organiser in the Jozi Book Fair, a programme of Khanya College.