In light of the festive season approaching, the National Prosecuting Authority has ratified the protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
The act, which is referred to as the Palermo Protocol, obliged Parliament to pass legislation that deals with all forms of trafficking in persons.
The signs that a person may be a victim of trafficking in persons include:
Evidence of being controlled
Evidence of inability to move or leave a job
Bruises or other signs of physical abuse
Fear or depression
Not speaking on own behalf and/ or non-English speaking
No passport or other forms of identification or documentation
Is hungry-malnourished or inappropriately dressed (based on weather conditions or surroundings)
Shows signs of drug addiction
Receives little or no payment for work done
No days off or work excessively long hours of work
Have no access to their earnings
Tips for parents:
Do not wait 24 hours before reporting your child missing. This is a dangerous myth. Once you have established that the whereabouts of your child is unknown, report it to the police immediately.
Know your child’s whereabouts at all times. Never leave children alone in a car, not even for a few seconds.
When age appropriate and over a period of time, teach your children the following in a non-threatening way (and practice this):
Your first and last name. Their name, address and telephone number.
The nearest police station.
How to call 10111 for help (and the TIP helpline number). Make sure your children know how to make local and long distance telephone calls.
Never to leave home without your permission.
Never to wander off, to avoid deserted places, and to avoid shortcuts through alleys. They are safer in groups.
Never to give any information to anyone, especially over the telephone, including their name and address or indicate they are alone.
To keep doors locked and admit only authorised people into the house.
If accosted by a stranger in a mall to scream ‘This is not my Daddy/ Mommy’ or ‘Stranger’, to drop to the floor and practice this with them. This is the one time all manners can go out of the window.
Never to accept a lift from someone you do not know, even if the child knows them.
To come straight home from school unless you have made other arrangements.
To never to enter anyone’s home without your approval.
Establish strict procedures for picking up children at school, after movies, at friends’ homes for eg: where to stand and wait.
Establish a family code word that only you, your child and a trusted relative or friend knows. Teach your child to ask for the code word when approached by someone offering him or her a ride. Have photographs taken of your children at least four times a year.
Make a note of birthmarks or other distinguishing features.
Talk to your children about being aware of strangers or vehicles loitering nearby.
Have your child fingerprinted and store the prints in a safe, easily accessible place in your home. Listen to your child when he or she discusses anyone new they have met or spoken with when you weren’t around.
Very small children should play only in areas away from the street, such as a backyard, or in a play area supervised by a responsible adult.
Should your child ever go missing, contact the police on 10111 or 112 on any cellphone. Alternatively, simply go to your nearest police station and complete a SAPS 55 form. Missing Children South Africa can also be contacted on 072-647-7464.
For more information on human trafficking or to report any cases of human trafficking, the National Human Trafficking Hotline can be contacted on 080-022-2777.