A recent study estimates that there are about 250,000 modern-day slaves in South Africa.
The 2016 Global Slavery Index estimates that 43% of the country's slaves are in the sex industry, 11% in construction, 5% in farming and 8% in drug production.
The index, compiled by the Walk Free Foundation, also estimates that 10600 women in South Africa are victims of forced marriage. The researchers blamed this on the persistence of traditional practices such as ukuthwala, in which young women, or girls, are abducted and forced into a marriage.
Katie Modrau - a development manager at A21, an NGO that fights human trafficking - said more statistics needed to be collected for a full picture of slavery in South Africa.
Her organisation has rescued trafficking victims in the fishing and sex industries.
Trafficking in the Fishing Industry
She said victims in the fishing industry often came from Cambodia and Indonesia. They were often recruited in their own countries with the promise of good money . But when they are on board the ship, they are told to sign contracts that are not in their home languages, and are prevented from leaving.
"They are often not held with physical chains; the chains that hold them are fear," said Modrau, adding that many feared that their families would be victimised.
Slavery has Increased Globally
According to the index, slavery has increased globally.
Andrew Forrest, the chairman and founder of Walk Free Foundation, said: "While we see that the absolute figure of the number of people enslaved globally is greater than previously reported in 2014, this can be largely attributed to our improved research methodology.
"However, this does not preclude an increase in slavery in certain jurisdictions.
"On the other hand, we have seen increased actions from certain governments around the world in tackling slavery."
The foundation estimated that there were 45.8 million people enslaved in the world, 28% more than their previous estimate.
North Korea, the index found, had the highest prevalence of modern slavery, with 4.37% of its population enslaved.
India had 18.35 million enslaved people.
Modrau said the new Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act gave anti-human trafficking initiatives some much-needed legal support in the country.
But the problem was funding and seeing the act being implemented on the ground.
Said Forrest: "Governments need to look more closely at illicit labour recruitment, crack down on the illegal companies that provide conduits in which people end up in slavery, and penalise the companies and individuals that are using bonded labour, either directly or in their supply chains.
"At the same time, it is important that we tackle the conditions that drive labour migration by creating opportunities within South Africa."
By Shaun Smillie, www.timeslive.co.za
, 1 June 2016.
New National Counter-Trafficking Helpline
The New National Counter-Trafficking Helpline: 0800 222 777, launched in August 2016 by the National Freedom Network has helped rescue victims. The success of the Resource Line for the period August 2016 – May 2017 is reflected in the receipt of 3 665 incoming calls from all 9 provinces, yielding 120 tip offs and 29 rescues.
Your Tip-Off Could Lead to Rescue!
If you believe you have identified someone still in the trafficking situation, alert law enforcement immediately through the anti-trafficking organisations numbers provided. It may be unsafe to attempt to rescue a trafficking victim. You have no way of knowing how the trafficker may react and retaliate against the victim or you. If, however, you identify a victim who has escaped the trafficking situation, there are a number of organizations to whom the victim could be referred for help with shelter, medical care, legal assistance, and other critical services. In this case, call the National Human Trafficking helpline: 0800 222 777, S-Cape: 021 - 788 8207 or Stop Trafficking: 082 456 2459.
Africa Christian Action: