DA: Statement by Debbie Schafer, Democratic Alliance shadow minister of police, on the Hawks and human trafficking (12/03/2010)

12th March 2010

In answer to a question I posed in Parliament regarding human trafficking, and specifically regarding anti- human trafficking measures during the World Cup, the Minister of Police said that the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI), the "Hawks" would be dealing with this category of crime. However, if a member of the public wanted to report suspected human trafficking, how would that person contact the Hawks? The answer is: you can't.

None of the Hawks contact details are listed on the SAPS website. I phoned various people at SAPS head office to obtain the Hawks contact details, only to be told that they are still installing telephone lines. I was given 3 cell phone numbers, not one of which works. As of November last year, a meagre 118 members had been vetted and cleared to be employed by the Hawks. The DA estimated that at that rate, it would take seven years for all the Hawks members to be vetted and running at full capacity. Given the huge number of crimes needing to be investigated, and resourcing problems, it is highly improbable that the Hawks will be able to properly deal with human trafficking.

The Minister of Police stated with regards to Human Trafficking that, "[t]his is one of the Priority Crimes and the DPCI are dealing with the matter. We are confident given the work being done by the DPCI that we will be in a position to deal with any increase in type of crime during the FIFA World Cup." This is hardly believable as a previous reply from the Minister detailed that the SAPS had managed to secure a total conviction rate of 5 cases for human trafficking in the last financial year, and only 29 successful detections, even though South Africa has become a source, destination and transit country for trafficking in persons and is on an international human trafficking watchlist.

It is reported that some 40 000 women and children were trafficked during the 2006 German World Cup. It is estimated that South Africa could be facing figures as high as 100 000 over the World Cup in June and July. Can we rely on a body that does not even have working telephones to ensure that women and children are kept safe from being exploited?

We need clear and simple answers - how many detectives are qualified to investigate human trafficking? How many detectives in the DPCI are allocated to deal with this? We will put these questions to the Minister in Parliament, but in the meantime we call on him to publicise the correct details of where to report these crimes, so that concerned members of the public know who to contact.

This is an issue that has received far too little attention from SAPS. The publication of a reply such as the one above indicates a lack of genuine commitment by the ANC government to deal with crimes against women and children in particular. The Minister may be confident that DPCI will be able to deal with it during the World Cup, but based on the above facts, we most certainly are not.