Human Trafficking Awareness in the South-African Police Service

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In this chapter data was obtained by using individual interviews which was interpreted and compared to other research in the field. The purpose of the report is to ensure awareness on Human Trafficking (HT) in the South-African Police Service (SAPS). This report focus specific on the awareness-level in the Boland Area. A detailed picture was constructed on the awareness level of Human Trafficking (HT ) in the Boland Area.

Recommendations are made for the development of an effective approach in the South-African Police Service (SAPS) to prevent and investigate Human Trafficking successful. The data obtained, during the research, was interpreted to find possible solutions to the challenges identified during the individual interviews.

The recommendations focus on possible solutions in the challenges identified during the individual interviews. The recommendations made in this research report are applicable for short and long term planning to develop a strategy on Human Trafficking Awareness in the South-African Police Service (SAPS) with specific focus on the Boland Area.

Addressing the most challenging concepts identified in the research, the recommendations comprise a few vital responses to ensure an effective strategy and awareness on Human Trafficking (HT).

5.2 The following recommendations deriving from the research questions and answered by research findings attempt to address some of the requirements for compliance:

5.2.1 What do you understand under the term “Human trafficking”?

It was clear during the research done that only experienced police officials are aware of the meaning of the concept on Human Trafficking. Therefore the researcher focussed on experienced police officials to be participants in the research process.

Shortcomings were identified in the lack of awareness on human trafficking referring to front-line police officials.

According to Di Nicola (2007: 49) that knowledge acquired through research develops progressively and sometimes slowly.

Davis and Snyman (2005: 180-181) confirms that trafficking of Human Beings, for all forms of exploitation, existed as a modern-day form of slavery.

Research conclusion: (understanding of the term “Human Trafficking”):

From the interviews, with experienced Police Detectives, it was clear that there was a good understanding of what Human Trafficking is.

The front-line police officials lack training on the concept of Human Trafficking (HT). Training on the concept will assist with the understanding of the complexity of offences relevant to Human Trafficking (HT). Police officials will know how to identify and apply the relevant criminal aspects in order to police Human Trafficking (HT).

Research recommendation: (understanding of the term “Human Trafficking”):

The Directorate on Priority Crime (DPCI) must train more police officials on Human Trafficking (HT). The South African Police Service needs to specialise in the following capabilities:

  • to identify and respond to trafficking in persons,
  • Capabilities to recognise trafficking and specific interviewing techniques to assist victims of trafficking,
  • investigate cases professionally,
  • Know how to protect victims and prosecute traffickers.

It is clear that front-line police personal needs training to understand the concept of Human Trafficking. To assist police officials a checklist should be compiled on what needs to be done when dealing with Human Trafficking (HT) cases. The checklist should be available in the Community Service Centre to provide guidance to front-line police officials. The South-African Police Service (SAPS) should also develop trainers to present training programmes in identified areas where there is a training need.

5.2.2 Recording of Human Trafficking (HT) cases:

According to Tsireledzani (2010) the research on Human Trafficking was a challenge due to the fact that it was difficult to obtain information from the South African Police Service (SAPS). There was also a serious lack of statistical information on Human Trafficking.

Currently the situation is still the same. Accurate statistics on where Human Trafficking (HT) occurs and what the extent of the committed crimes are not available on the Crime Administration System (CAS) and therefore not linked to the Performance Chart in the South-African Police Service (SAPS). The Performance Chart is a computer system in the South-African Police Service (SAPS), which indicates a crime pattern analysis and crime threat analysis.

The relevant legislation on Human Trafficking (HT) needs to be in place, before the Crime Administration System (CAS) can be updated.

Research conclusion: (recording of Human Trafficking (HT) cases)

It was clear during the research done that front-line police officials do not know how to register Human Trafficking (HT) cases. The content of the statements where criminal offences on Human Trafficking (HT) is involved is a challenge. Due to the training need on the understanding of the concepts of Human Trafficking (HT), the relevant offences are not recorded as offences related to Human Trafficking (HT). Absence of application of Human Trafficking Law due to the fact that the law is not in place yet, confuses front-line police officials more when recording Human Trafficking (HT) cases is.

Shortcomings on the Crime Administration System (CAS) system and gaps were identified in the past, but are currently still not updated. Currently experienced police officials identify Human Trafficking (HT) cases and record the cases under the Sexual Offences Act and the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

Research Recommendation: (recording of Human Trafficking (HT) cases)

Based on the uncertainty about the registration of a Human Trafficking (HT) related complaints, the reporting phase of Human Trafficking and general statistics on Human Trafficking, the South-African Police Service (SAPS) should develop the skills of police officials to apply the necessary competency when a Human Trafficking (HT) case is reported.

Police officials should be aware of the threat of Human Trafficking (HT). The awareness should be with every police official, so that victims of trafficking could feel safe and develop trust in the South-African Police Service (SAPS) should a case be reported. The South-African Police Service (SAPS) should develop trust in the communities when dealing with Human Trafficking cases.

Techniques on how to record Human Trafficking (HT) on the SAPS database needs to be researched. Front-line police personnel need training to identify a case where Human Trafficking (HT) is involved. Front-line police officials should also be aware of the dangers involved when dealing with this type of offenders.

The South-African Police Service (SAPS) needs to implement a database on national-level to collect concrete and reliable data on Human Trafficking cases in South-Africa. This will enable the South-African Police Service to provide reliable statistics on Human Trafficking (HT) and to put emphasis on high profile investigations which started off as “simple” cases of immigration offences.

Complete recording of criminal offences related to Human Trafficking will ensure accurate statistics nationally on the occurrence of related offences. Recording will also assist to link modus operandi’s of traffickers and indicate the specific geographical areas where the criminal offences occur.

Proper recording will provide information on international syndicates involved in criminal offences of Human Trafficking (HT) to and from South-Africa.

5.2.3Which crimes are considered by police officers to be associated with Human Trafficking?

Experienced police officials identified common law crimes and statutory offences which can be associated with Human Trafficking.

Currently the capacity of the experienced police officials is not enough to share their skills with front-line police officers who are in need of guidance referring to identification of possible Human Trafficking (HT) cases.

Research Conclusion: crimes considered by police officers to be associated with Human Trafficking (HT)?)

It became obvious during the research that experienced police officials have a good knowledge of common law crimes and statutory offences. The registration of these offences and the necessary skills to obtain complete statements to register Human Trafficking (HT) related offences is a challenge to inexperienced front-line members.

Experienced police officials agrees with the following common law offences, as stated by Snyman 2008, when dealing with Human Trafficking (HT):

  • Kidnapping
  • Assault with the intention to cause grievous bodily harm
  • Attempted Murder
  • Murder
  • Culpable homicide
  • Extortion
  • Crimen Injuria
  • Criminal Defamation

Research recommendation :( crimes considered by police officers to be associated with Human Trafficking (HT)?)

Awareness on Human Trafficking (HT) should be raised amongst all police officials. The South-African Police Service (SAPS) need to build capacity amongst all police officials to identify Human Trafficking criminal offences.

Police officials should be aware of the profile of a possible trafficker, for example the profile of a regular customer at brothels. Police Officials should also be trained on the identification of possible human trafficking victims.

Networking with relevant shelters, to assist victims of Human Trafficking (HT) should be part of the awareness campaigns amongst police officials. Relevant criminal offences will be reported by the public, when they are confident in the competency of the front-line police official when reporting the case.

5.2.4 How do police officials apply relevant laws when attending to Human Trafficking cases?

Currently there are only two (2) specialised police detectives, investigating Human Trafficking in the Western-Cape. Due to their workload they battle to attend to all these specialised cases.

Experienced police officials know how to apply the relevant laws when attending to a Human Trafficking (HT) case. However some of the experienced police officials are not confident about the legislation applicable to Human Trafficking. (HT) During the interviews it became clear that even experienced police officials will be more self-confident in dealing with the relevant laws on Human Trafficking (HT) after relevant training.

The uncertainty to apply specific laws, referring to Human Trafficking (HT) is a concern amongst experienced police officials. They do not know where to obtain the necessary guidance due to the fact that the Justice department cannot provide clear guidance:

According to Snyman 2008: 475 – 476 the statutes (laws) include:

  • Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters amendment Act 32 of 2007)
  • The Constitution of the Republic of South-Africa, 1996
  • The Children’s Act 38 of 2005
  • The Human Tissue Act, 1983
  • The Sexual offences Act, 1957
  • The Riotous Assemblies Act, 1956
  • The Immigration Act, 2002
  • The Domestic Violence Act, 1998
  • The Films and Publications Act, 1996
  • The Prevention of Organised Crime Act, 1998
  • The Drug Trafficking Act, 1992
  • The Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, 2004
  • The Criminal Procedure Act, 1977

The current law regarding trafficking in persons in the Republic of South- Africa (RSA) was announced on 30th July 2013 when the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill was signed by the State President. The legislation is largely the result of work done by the South African Law Reform Commission, in co-operation of numerous civil inputs. (Geldenhuys, K.2013.)

The new Act on Human Traffficking closes loopholes and offers a coherent approach to preventing and combating what is internationally considered to be the most pernicious form of contemporary slavery. (Geldenhuys 2013)

Research Conclusion: (how do police officials apply relevant laws when attending to Human Trafficking (HT) cases?)

There is an urgent need for the application of the Human Trafficking Act. The Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences units deal with sexual offences that can be linked to Human Trafficking (HT). Therefore the focus should also be on the urgent development of the existing front-line investigators.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) need to expand the current specialised units dealing with Human Trafficking (HT) cases. Specialised units should be capacitated to investigate and document all Human Trafficking (HT) cases. Education and awareness of these laws should be a priority.

By pooling existing knowledge, experienced police officials, should be trained to mentor inexperienced police officials on applying the relevant laws in Human Trafficking cases.

Research Recommendation: (how do police officials apply relevant laws when attending to Human Trafficking (HT) cases?)

The South-African Police Service (SAPS) needs to establish a multi-disciplinary task team to address human trafficking. The South-African Police Service (SAPS) needs to liaise with the National Prosecuting Authorities (NPA) and Non Governmental Organisations (NGO’S) to investigate and combat Human Trafficking effectively (Servamus 2013 : 25).

There are no multi-disciplinary task team (including SAPS, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’S) and embassies to address Human Trafficking. The South-African Police Service (SAPS) should focus on informing police officials on labour, immigration and foreign police policies. Police officials need to be aware on which documentation is important when a case is reported to ensure effective investigation and prosecution of the suspect. The South-African Police should implement an anti-trafficking regime nationally and internationally.

IIt is encouraging to note that there is a general trend to review and update legislation, moving towards a comprehensive anti-trafficking regime as in Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. The Criminal Justice Response is strengthened through initiatives such as training, establishment of specialist units and increased prosecutions. South-Africa shares particular concerns such as national borders or migratory trends with the SADC countries. (US Dept of State 2009: 305)

5.2.5What is the best strategy to make police officials aware of Human Trafficking?

Currently there is no specific strategy to make police officials on ground level and in the front-line aware of the concepts of Human Trafficking (HT).

National Instructions on how to deal with Human Trafficking (HT) and application of the Law on Human Trafficking is not available in the South-African Police Service (SAPS).

Research Conclusion: (best strategy to make police officials aware of Human Trafficking (HT) )

Awareness can be raised by effective training of ground level police officials. Clear guidelines should be available to police officials, on the Intranet, on how to register a Human Trafficking case. Investigation techniques to ensure effective investigation should also be accessible on the Intranet.

Organised Crime units should share their expertise on Human Trafficking (HT) with police officials.

Effectiveness in sector policing can enhance communication and assist the informed police official pro-actively to prevent Human Trafficking (HT) in that specific area.

However police officials would like to focus on intelligence gathering to prevent Human Trafficking (HT). The participants are concerned about the high crime rate in their working areas. The culture of crime and shortage of police officials makes it difficult to raise awareness on Human Trafficking.

Participants are positive about networking with specific role-players and to utilize resources to prevent Human Trafficking (HT). ,

Research Recommendation: best strategy to make police officials aware of human trafficking?)

Awareness campaigns are vital to enhance strategies to make South African police officials aware of Human Trafficking (HT). Effective communication amongst police officials and sharing of information Human Trafficking is important to enhance intelligence gathering and improve the possibility of identifying Human Trafficking cases. This will have a positive impact on a pro-active strategy to Human Trafficking (HT).

Police officers must be trained to know what the immediate needs of the victim are. Police officials should receive training on how to network with relevant Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) to meet the basic needs of victims referring to food, water, medication and accommodation to be arranged.

The development of an updated curriculum on human trafficking that includes the new law on Human Trafficking (HT) and explains the application thereof. The development of trainers, by means of train-the –trainer courses, to present the training on Human Trafficking (HT) nationally. The development of professional trainers on an international level by sending them on Human Trafficking courses, presented internationally. Effective networking amongst front-line police officials, front-line investigators and professionals assisting Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’S) will be developed. Professionals at Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’S) can also assist with the training of police officials. Effective networking will be encouraged amongst relevant parties to address Human Trafficking (HT).

Frontline police-officials need training on how the following concepts:

  • To identify a criminal offence linked to Human Trafficking (HT)
  • To take complete statements where all the elements of the crimes are included
  • To apply the concepts of the Act on Human Trafficking (HT)
  • To network with organisations who can assist victims of trafficking.
  • To identify evidential material, to individualise the evidence collected and to arrest the offenders.

The South-African Police Service to include Human Trafficking in the 16 Days of Activism Awareness Campaign. To make use of Interpol and advertise on an international level that South-Africa focus on the prevention of Human Trafficking (HT). Awareness campaigns will enable members of the public to identify and report suspected trafficking cases.


Research to compile of National Instructions on Human Trafficking in the South-African Police Service (SAPS)

Research to develop a Communication plan in the South-African Police Service (SAPS).

The communication plan should inform the public of the existence and awareness on Human Trafficking in South-Africa. The research will increase the understanding of Human Trafficking and the application of effective pro-active measures to prevent human trafficking.


The research confirmed that there were different views on Human Trafficking and the understanding there-of as determined by the research questions. It is clear that the possibility of Human Trafficking exist in the Boland area. Unfortunately front-line police officials are not equipped with the necessary skills to identify the crime.

The recommendations will ensure better service delivery. The strategy of human Trafficking awareness will enhance professional service delivery on Human Trafficking by the South-African Police Service. (SAPS)

The outcome of the research will be of value to the South-African Police Service (SAPS) and to the organisations clients. The reason is that front-line police officials will be aware of the possible existence of Human Trafficking. With the necessary skills they will identify and individualise possible syndicates in the Boland Area and the whole of South-Africa (SA).