Reitumetse Makwea

By Reitumetse Makwea

Journalist


Human trafficking gang targets women

Following a viral video on Twitter by content creator Namolinah, a number of women came out to identify a man who was stalking the YouTuber at Menlyn Mall.


Despite the noise around women living in fear in SA, kidnapping, abductions and human trafficking have been increasing at an alarming rate, with organised crime set to increase in the near future, according to a report by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime.

Following a viral video on Twitter by content creator Namolinah, a number of women came out to identify a man who was stalking the YouTuber at Menlyn Mall.

He allegedly had also been stalking women in Sandton City and Eastgate, among other malls.

A survivor of attempted kidnapping, Nompumelelo Semeno, said nothing could have prepared her for what happened on the day she was almost kidnapped.

Narrating her experience, the 23 year old said it’s time SA realised that kidnapping was a real and present danger.

“It’s so sad that, as a country, we have not realised how big of a crisis this is,” said Semeno. “I tried reporting it and the police just said there’s nothing they can do until he intimidates or harasses me.

I immediately felt defeated.” Gauteng police spokesperson Colonel Dimakatso Sello said police could not confirm if a case has been opened and said “any criminal activity can be reported at any police station or on the Crime Stop Line, 08600- 10111, or anonymously report tip-offs on the MySaps app”.

When asked what women can do to protect themselves, criminologist Dr Guy Lamb said while such incidents should always be reported, “when it’s someone who was not doing anything violent or trying to hurt you then, generally, it’s quite difficult for the police to take action”.

However, criminologist at the University of Cape Town Dr Annette Hubschle said it was hard to determine whether or not organised crime was a crisis in SA and in order not to create a panic it was “very important to differentiate between smuggling, human trafficking, kidnapping and gender-based violence”.

“I mean, we have put so many crisis points, so I would hate to put anything above one another, because there’s so many things happening, such gender-based violence,” Hubschle said.

“Without having seen the latest set of stats on human trafficking and actually knowing exactly what definition was used, we cannot say it’s a crisis.”

Mark Shaw, the director of the group Global Initiative, said in an introduction to the 206- page document, organised crime has become an existential threat to SA, impacting the lives of millions of people, together with the country’s economic health and political integrity.

“The scope, scale and nature of human trafficking in South Africa have been the subject of much debate but while several recent assessments agree that it is increasing, it is not a major illicit market in South Africa,” Shaw said.

“Human smuggling, although an active market, similarly has significantly less reach in South Africa than in other countries on the continent.

“But where these crimes do take place, they present particular challenges and cause specific harms,” Shaw said.

ALSO READ: Five foreign nationals nabbed for kidnapping

– reitumetsem@citizen.co.za