Traffickers are targeting young men, luring them with promises of work.
That’s the warning from local NGOs, with founder of the Open Door Crisis Centre in Durban, Thora Mansfield, confirming this week she has been working with 14 men who were trafficked to Angola, but who managed to escape.
Speaking to The Independent on Saturday, Mansfield said: “Last month I worked with 14 young men who were trafficked to Angola. They were promised long-term contracts to be soccer players, but realised later they were in danger when they were told their body parts were going to be used for muthi.”
She said all 14 escaped and the case is ongoing in Angola.
Having just received a Rotary Award for her work with victims of abuse, Mansfield added that last year Open Door helped 250 women and children get their lives back and, hopefully, this year they will do the same.
Meanwhile, the project manager for anti-human trafficking at the Umgeni Community Empowerment Centre based in central Durban, Thami Ntimbane, said his organisation had not dealt with trafficked male victims in Durban, but were aware of men being lured to foreign countries with the promise of a job. He warned the public must remain on the alert when being offered employment.
“Do not trust anyone who comes to you randomly and says they have a job available in other countries. Yes, we are battling with unemployment in our country, but let’s be safe.
“In some cases, South African women are marrying foreigners, but, after the marriage, they are asked by their new husbands to go with them to their country to formally meet the family, but they never make it back,” said Ntimande.
Sisonke national co-ordinator communications officer of Sex Workers’ Education and Advocacy Taskforce, Kholi Buthelezi, said unemployment had resulted in an increase in men and women entering the sex industry.
“I believe a lot of women and men lately join the industry, but it’s their choice most of the time.
“Male sex workers who I’ve spoken to with regard to our campaign of legalising prostitution, say they do it because there aren’t any jobs.
“These are well-educated men with degrees and diplomas. But let me make this clear to all South Africans, anyone can traffic you, including your closest family or your best friend,” said Buthelezi.
She said in the Eastern Cape this year, four cases had been reported where men and women had been raped and killed during sex work activities.