Our thanks to Advocate Beatri Kruger who works in at the Free State University in South Africa for the following update on South Africa where the legislature is developing its response to Human Trafficking – she informs us about the following news released yesterday.
Human trafficker Adina dos Santos was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Pretoria Regional Court on the 20th July 2011. Dos Santos was found guilty of trafficking three girls from Mozambique who had been forced into prostitution and worked in South Africa. Dos Santos was in addition to life imprisonment, also given a one-year sentence for living off the money she had made from the girls.
This is very significant case. The giving of a life-sentence now clearly sends the message that human trafficking is categorised among the most serious of crimes in South Africa and signals clearly that those who traffick in human beings can no longer get away with impunity, or light sentencing in South Africa.
Dos Santos was convicted of sex trafficking under the terms of the Sexual Offences Amendment Act 32 of 2007. South Africa is currently reviewing its legislation on human trafficking and its comprehensive legislation regarding both child and adult trafficking has still not passed through the legislature. However there is interim legislation in place criminalising
-all forms of child trafficking and
-sex trafficking of adults
which are now in force on which courts are reaching their judgements, and judges sentencing on the strength of them.
In May two Chinese women who allegedly ran a brothel in Goodwood, South Africa were accussed of luring young women from China to South Africa. They were charged with keeping a brothel and human trafficking, but because the charges involve sexual offences, they have not yet been named until they plead. They were set bail conditions of R5000 – less than £500 each.
The women were accused of luring young Chinese women to South Africa with false promises of jobs that paid monthly salaries of up to R50,000 (£4,481). Chinese women are some of the most at risk women and girls in the world, in the current global movement of women for sex, domesticated servitude and trafficked labour.
The dos Santos judgement, is just one part of the long haul in getting a grip internationally on the globally realised crime of human trafficking – but an important one. As IOM acting chief of mission in South Africa Erick Ventura noted –
‘human traffickers in South Africa have in the past been rarely taken to court and only charged with minor offences such as “keeping a brothel” when they have been brought for prosecution.’
Without appropriate – punishment fits the crime judgements – those who benefit from as much as £100,000 per woman/minor exploited within trafficking for sexual exploitation – will continue to ply their illicit merchandising. Other dimensions of the trade need to be addressed as well. Importantly, dos Santos would have made no money whatsoever if there had been no clients to purchase the three young Mozambicans whom she had imported and forced into prostitution. And thereby hangs a longer and more critical cultural conversation for most countries in the world to engage with.
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