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By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


‘Big market’: Experts worry about sex trafficking infiltrating SA

Prostitution remains a challenge due to its big market. Crime experts express concern over human trafficking as three Thai women are rescued from a house in Garsfontein.


Not much can be done about prostitution because of the big market for sex, but there’s a big concern for human trafficking, say crime experts. Three Thai women were rescued from a house in Garsfontein last week after one escaped and fled to the Royal Thai Embassy in Hatfield, Pretoria, to call for help. Police spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale said three suspects were arrested after the three victims were rescued. “It is reported that information was received when one of the victims managed to escape from her captors. She then reported to the Thai Embassy that she had been held…

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Not much can be done about prostitution because of the big market for sex, but there’s a big concern for human trafficking, say crime experts.

Three Thai women were rescued from a house in Garsfontein last week after one escaped and fled to the Royal Thai Embassy in Hatfield, Pretoria, to call for help.

Police spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale said three suspects were arrested after the three victims were rescued.

“It is reported that information was received when one of the victims managed to escape from her captors. She then reported to the Thai Embassy that she had been held against her will for sexual exploitation. This prompted the involvement of law enforcement and social services.”

Mogale said contact was made with one of the victims still being held.

“Two more victims were rescued after members of the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation assisted by Tshwane Metro Police Department K9 and SA Police Service Pretoria K9 gained access to the premises,” she said.

Royal Thai Embassy has yet to comment on the incident.

Head of the department of justice, criminologist Prof Jaco Barkhuizen said human trafficking, like drugs and arms trafficking, had infiltrated SA for years.

“South Africa is a transit and destination, meaning people are trafficked through South Africa and to South Africa. Human trafficking is a very hidden and organised crime, that’s why it’s difficult to get statistics on it.”

Barkhuizen said it was easy for these organised groups to traffic people into and out of South Africa through SA’s borders, open air and port systems.

“The victims are usually illegal in the country and are fearful of coming forward because they are illegal and do not want to be arrested.

“Usually, the traffickers have details of their families and they fear that something may happen to their families, which weighs heavily on their conscience,” he said.

Independent crime analyst Dr Chris de Kock said prostitution had been around for a long time.

“We need to distinguish between prostitution and human trafficking. Human trafficking often happens when victims were lured under false pretences and held captive,” he said.

De Kock said it was hard to prove human trafficking in court.

“It’s your word against mine that you were held captive for prostitution. I haven’t seen one successful conviction of human trafficking. Not that I know of.”

De Kock said prostitution was in every town and city in South Africa and the world.

Thai prostitution is worldwide. It started years ago during the Vietnam War. Later, people from all over went to Thailand for prostitution.

However, he said he was more worried about human trafficking.

“Prostitution will never go away. If you decriminalise it, you have better control over the health aspect and spread of disease, and you protect the sex workers from abuse and corruption.”

He said because there was a big market in every city and town in the world, nothing could be done about prostitution.

“It is what it is.”

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