The stark reality of human trafficking cases around the globe is that only 1 % of the victims have been traced, found and reunited with their loved ones.

That was a grim message by Fawzia Peer, the deputy mayor in the eThekwini Municipality, at the fifth annual Stop Human Trafficking Walk held at the Blue Lagoon on Sunday, 6 October.

The event, organised by the Umgeni Community Empowerment Centre, was supported by guests like ex Bafana Bafana striker, Delron Buckley, Griselda Grootboom, a human trafficking survivor and author, as well as comedian and journalist, Carvin Goldstone among others.

Peer said while human trafficking cases around the globe was on the increase, the success rate of the world’s law enforcement agencies in finding the victims was exceptionally low.

“Only 1% of the victims have been found. Therefore parents, families and members of the public must be aware that human trafficking is a very serious issue,” said Peer. She emphasised that people must not wait for 24 hours to inform police of a missing person.
“This window is the most crucial when anyone goes missing. People still think that they should wait 24 hours. That is not the case, especially when it comes to missing children. Parents should always know where their children are and they should always have a responsible adult to watch over for them when they are young,” said Peer.

She urged parents to keep tabs on their children all the time. “Although boys and girls are prone to kidnappings, adults are not immune to the crime. Human trafficking is a reality that is lurking in plain sight which no measure of ignorance can cause to disappear. With more awareness campaigns and community involvement, we can rip the bandaid off human trafficking in South Africa and unite in our efforts to combat against this scourge,” she added.

Buckley described the event as a great initiative. “We are in a society where human traffickers and other criminals are lurking. Like most parents, I have to watch my kids 24/7. This should not be the case because kids should enjoy their childhood without fear of being kidnapped” said Buckley.

Griselda Grootboom, the best-selling author of memoir, Exit, said parents must be vigilant about their children’s social media’s interest.

She cautioned it is easy for human traffickers to retrieve the photographs of boys, girls, teenagers and others from social media platforms and to use them for their criminal activities locally and internationally.

Visit http://www.ucec.org.za/ to find out more about the Umgeni Community Centre, or to contribute to the cause.