Last Updated: Monday, 30 May 2016, 07:59 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - South Africa

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 11 June 2003
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - South Africa, 11 June 2003, available at: [accessed 30 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

South Africa (Tier 2)

South Africa is a destination country for women trafficked from other parts of Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, and the former Soviet Union for commercial sexual exploitation. South African women and children are also trafficked internally for labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Powerful trafficking syndicates from Russia, Thailand, China, and Nigeria control much of the sex trade. Sex tourism is also increasing. South Africa is a country of transit for trafficking operations between developing countries and Europe, the United States, and Canada.

The Government of South Africa does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. South Africa should expedite the enactment of anti-trafficking legislation, commit more resources to understaffed police units, provide temporary status and protection for foreign trafficking victims, and enhance witness protection programs, particularly for child victims.


The Ministry of Labor has established ten Child Labor Inter-Sectoral Groups, which include several government ministries, international organizations, NGOs, unions, and employers. These entities coordinate services, help raise public awareness, and enforce labor laws against the worst forms of child labor. The government provided a school building for NGOs to educate street children, funded free school uniforms for 1,900 poor children, and established 167 child societies to promote awareness of children's rights. Despite a media campaign against child prostitution, high crime, child rape, domestic abuse, and HIV/AIDS remain overwhelming social priorities. The government is working with an international organization to eliminate the worst forms of child labor and provides child support grants and family allowances to high-risk groups, especially child-headed household and HIV/AIDS orphans.


South Africa does not have a comprehensive anti-trafficking law. An anti-child trafficking provision was inserted into the Child Welfare Act, and the South African Law Commission began drafting a comprehensive anti-trafficking law. The government is currently prosecuting a high profile case against a prominent brothel and several child prostitution cases in Cape Town. Victim reluctance to testify and the deportation of foreign victims continue to hamper investigations and prosecutions. The government established an anti-trafficking unit at Johannesburg International Airport, and border police incorporated protection of women and children into their training curriculum. Police and judicial officials received training on the commercial sexual exploitation of children, and labor inspectors were trained and performed inspections of businesses and agricultural farms throughout 2002. South Africa cooperates with neighboring countries, but police units handling trafficking issues are understaffed and information sharing with neighbors is hindered by corruption.


South Africa uses 20 Sexual Offenses courts to handle trafficking cases, but relies heavily on NGOs to provide witness protection. Non-governmental organizations provide shelter, medical, and legal assistance for child prostitutes and a hotline for victims of child abuse. The government has donated land and buildings for various shelters for victims of sexual abuse, street children, and orphans.

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