“One of the offshoots of migration is human trafficking. It’s a crime that is international and it’s basically the buying and selling of human beings for the purpose of making a profit. It’s another name for slavery,” Resh Mehta from the International Organisation for Migration told CNBC Africa.
Mehta added that in order to distinguish human trafficking from any other crime, there have to be three elements present: the act of recruitment whether through transportation or transfer harbouring, followed by the means in terms of how the action is committed, whether through coercion, force or deception. The last element is purpose, which is usually for but not limited to exploitation.
“Very often a person will accompany the trafficker willingly as they are being deceived into believing that there is a job waiting for them at the other end, at the destination. Exploitation, 99 per cent of the time, is for money but sometimes it is for getting the services of a person: using the person as a domestic help, farming, forced labour,” Mehta explained.
Alek Kuhudzai, who is responsible for refugee rights at the Agency for Refugee Education, explained that where South Africa is concerned, human trafficking has been found to be significantly easy to do in the country.
“In the case of refugees or asylum seekers, people that are willing to lodge applications for asylum, it’s very easy for them to be tricked or lured because South Africa has a liberal system that allows them to mingle in society, integrate in the community and work and study,” Kuhudzai explained.
He added that in some cases, asylum seekers were put into “asylum seeker” camps in their home country before they were transported to South Africa. Upon crossing the South Africa border, however, the option of asylum disappeared.
According to Kuhudzai, South Africa however allows any illegal person from any country five days to lodge a formal application for asylum. The period of allowance was originally 14 days. Mehta added that despite coming into the country legally, human trafficking can still occur.
“You can enter South Africa legally and still be trafficked. Human trafficking is organised crime. It can take place within a country and across international borders. That’s why the United Nations has passed a convention on this issue,” she said.