U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - South Africa

South Africa (Tier 2)

South Africa is a country of origin, destination, and transit for women, children, and men trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women and girls are trafficked to South Africa for forced prostitution, forced marriages, and forced labor. Mozambican women and street children from Lesotho, women from East Asia (Thailand and China) and South Asia (Pakistan), and women from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe are all trafficked to South Africa for sexual exploitation. South Africans are trafficked internally for domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, and forced labor, and some are trafficked to Macau, Hong Kong, and the Middle East for similar purposes.

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 African officials should engage more forcefully to implement the National Plan of Action, step up border security, and conduct anti-trafficking public awareness campaigns. The government needs to enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation and move vigorously to combat organized trafficking syndicates and lower-level government corruption.


South Africa lacks an anti-trafficking statute and has no comprehensive law enforcement programs targeting trafficking. Some government agencies have developed their own anti-trafficking programs. Traffickers are prosecuted under a variety of statutes, including the Child Care Act, the Sexual Offences Act, the Prevention of Organized Crime Act, and the general criminal law. Approximately 10 investigations and four prosecutions involving trafficking are underway. Government officials are moving expeditiously to address the trafficking problem on several fronts. The South African Law Commission is preparing comprehensive draft legislation on trafficking for consideration in 2004. The National Directorate for Public Prosecutions formed an inter-agency task force that drafted a national action plan on trafficking in persons. Police officials formed an anti-trafficking team at the Johannesburg airport. Police resources to address trafficking are limited in South Africa, which has among the highest crime rates in the world. The Department of Labor prepared a Child Labor Action Program that contains anti-trafficking components. Several provincial task forces address trafficking and this program is to be extended to every province. There is evidence of trafficking-related corruption among lower-level government and police officials. In 2003, six immigration officials, five police officers, and airport inspection officers were arrested for facilitation of illegal immigration into South Africa. The Department of Home Affairs, with U.S. Government assistance, is taking serious steps to improve border controls.


The South African Government is not directly involved in trafficking prevention campaigns. International organizations and NGOs, often in agreement with the government, conduct regional anti-trafficking public awareness campaigns, research, and information collection. The government provided funding in this area, including one NGO that is addressing child prostitution. Government campaigns against violence towards women and children are expected to have some positive impact.


The government provides no assistance to trafficking victims per se, but operates a network of facilities to care for victims of sexual abuse. These facilities are networked with special Sexual Offences Courts. Foreign trafficking victims are often treated as illegal immigrants and deported. A few cooperating witnesses have been granted protection or immunity from prosecution.


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