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Human trafficking raises red flags

SHARON MATHALA
Cases of organ harvesting, prostitution and debt bondage in human trafficking have increased locally forcing the authorities to raise a red flag.

Despite its rising profile in many parts of Africa and the world coupled with efforts to raise public awareness; Botswana remains a fertile ground for traffickers.

This week, high-ranking officials from 10 African countries came together in Gaborone to devise solutions to address human trafficking. The seminar, which included judges, chief prosecutors and the police, is expected to end today.

Speaking at the event, the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Eric Molale cited that there were relatively high incidents of human trafficking in Botswana.

He said that in Botswana, about 12 cases of human trafficking have been fully investigated and had been committed to the High Court for prosecution whilst the police are still investigating around eight incidents.

Investigations reveal that victims are often enticed to leave their homes with false promises of jobs and a better life abroad, but are later subjected to prostitution, forced labour and most horrific even the removal of body organs.

So far, Botswana courts are currently faced with one, sensitive case where the traffickers intended to remove the body organs of the victims.

Last year, the U.S State Department reported that Botswana was a source, transit of destination country for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.

The report exposed that young Batswana domestic workers from extended families were often victims of human trafficking.

“They are subjected to confinement or verbal, physical and or sexual

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abuse. Such conditions are indicative for forced labour in Botswana,” the report said.

It was suggested that Batswana girls and women were exploited in prostitution within the country.

Senior prosecutor at the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) Priscilla Israel hinted in an interview that dominant form of human trafficking was that of child exploitation.

“In most cases the minor would have been brought in from the rural areas to the cities and end up being exploited.  The fact that you would be denying the minor his /her right to education, as well as making them work for no pay accounts to child labour,” Israel explained.

Israel further indicated that in most cases the victims are transported to neighbouring countries, usually at odd times of the day.

“Recently we managed to coop a group by Ramatlabama border in the early morning, after investigations it later became evident that they were being transported to South Africa for prostitution and debt bondage,” she said.

Israel also revealed that they are currently handling another case in which another victim was in transit to South Africa for the purpose of organ harvesting. Whilst investigations continue in this case, the victim is currently under high security watch in Botswana.

Mmegi has learnt there have been threats to “silence” her from the traffickers.

In 2014, Botswana passed the Anti-Human Trafficking Act to empower police and criminal investigators to apprehend and charge traffickers.



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