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26 June 2023

HSRC released a new study on human trafficking in South Africa

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Press Release

Human Sciences Research Council

Pretoria, Monday, 26 June 2023 –The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) has published a new study on human trafficking in South Africa, which is now available nationwide.

The author, Prof Philip Frankel, has worked on trafficking issues for over a decade and also authored the only other book on the subject in South Africa, ‘Long Walk to Nowhere: Human Trafficking in Post-Mandela South Africa‘, which came out in 2017.

The new book, Human Trafficking in South Africa, is an update of the earlier work. It will be launched on Thursday, 29 June 2023.

The new book goes beyond anything ever written in its exploration of the various forms of trafficking. Thus, chapters on sex, labour and child trafficking are supplemented by material on child organ trafficking for muti murder, illegal adoption and ‘baby farming’ of children for exploitation by foster parents.

The section on sex trafficking includes a discussion of current initiatives to decriminalise all forms of sex work. Labour trafficking is especially emphasised because it pervades complex, long and vulnerable supply chains in all sectors of the economy, mining, agriculture, industry and tourism.

Since 2017, a national policy framework (NFP) to implement South Africa’s comprehensive national law – the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons (PACOTIP) – has been established. Readers can expect unprecedented material on the mechanics of the NFP, especially the provincial structures set up to deal with trafficking at provincial level.

Prof Frankel notes that the whole system is an abject failure because of lack of finance, poor coordination, and selective participation by government departments and the South African Police Service (SAPS). Many of these problems reflect similar dysfunctions in mitigating human trafficking in countries in the surrounding sub-continent.

“Successful prosecution of traffickers is minimal despite a possible 250,000 victims in South Africa alone. There is rampant corruption in the SAPS and other departments such as the Department of Home Affairs, some of whose senior personnel are complicit with perpetrators in sophisticated transnational cartels,” says Frankel. He adds that public consciousness about trafficking is also limited, so many gut-wrenching trafficking crimes go unreported and uncounted.

“Trafficking has increased precipitously in the wake of COVID-19 and loadshedding to unprecedented levels and, according to international barometers, our counter-trafficking initiatives are stalled or losing ground.

“Confronting the challenge at this point requires a multi-dimensional initiative that includes more training and accountability in the criminal justice system, and widespread awareness training among key government and civil society stakeholders.

“This includes teachers, learners, social workers and psychologists as well as corporate activity to monitor and report on supply chains particularly vulnerable to trafficked labour. Current initiatives by banks and financial services to curb money laundering by trafficking cartels should also be extended throughout the financial services sector,” says Prof Frankel.


Details of the launch

Date:                 29 June 2023

Time:                 18:00 for 18:30

Venue:              Exclusive Books store Rosebank, Shop C331 & C332, The Mall of Rosebank 117 Oxford, Rosebank, Johannesburg, 2196

For media enquiries:

Dr Lucky Ditaunyane, Cell: 0832276074, Email: Nematandani Cell: +27 82 765 9191 Email:

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Notes to the Editor

About the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The HSRC was established in 1968 as South Africa’s statutory research agency and has grown to become the largest dedicated research institute in the social sciences and humanities on the African continent, doing cutting-edge public research in areas that are crucial to development.

Our mandate is to inform the effective formulation and monitoring of government policy; to evaluate policy implementation; to stimulate public debate through the effective dissemination of research-based data and fact-based research results; to foster research collaboration; and to help build research capacity and infrastructure for the human sciences.

The Council conducts large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific research for public sector users, non-governmental organisations and international development agencies. Research activities and structures are closely aligned with South Africa’s national development priorities.

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