Learners taught how to avoid human trafficking traps

Ms Corinne Sandenbergh teaches children how to recognise human trafficking.

MALALANE – Two local high schools were “traffic-proofed” during visits by Stop Human Trafficking on Tuesday morning.

Human trafficking is currently the fastest-growing illegal industry in the world and Mpumalanga is one of the most active areas in the country. Nkomazi is most vulnerable for this scourge as the area serves as a corridor between Mozambique, Swaziland and Gauteng.

Ms Corinne Sandenbergh, chairman of Stop Human Trafficking, and Ms Anita le Rouc, a coordinator of Iris Dignity, started a campaign to raise awareness with a training session at the Lebombo Border Post near Komatipoort on Monday morning.

Here they educated law enforcement on human trafficking and how to deal with it.

A small group met in Malalane on Monday evening to hear how they could get involved with the two organisations and raise awareness in the local community, schools, businesses and organisations.

The women visited Beacon College and Suikerland Secondary to raise awareness among pupils on Tuesday.

The learners were not informed of the reason why the group had visited them; Sandenburgh pretended to be part of a recruitment agency looking for great singers and soccer players. The pupils were asked to choose the best among them. The delighted two would come forward only to have their hands tied up.

During a visit to Suikerland Secondary School, a group of pupils’ hands were tied to illustrate how easily they can become victims of human trafficking.

Sandenburgh told the group that she had tricked them and that they would be sold as slaves and prostitutes. She explained that it was just an illustration to show how easily children and young people could be tricked into being trafficked.

Human trafficking is done for several purposes: sexual exploitation such as prostitution and pornography, organs, domestic servitude, recruiting child soldiers, and child marriages.

Learners were told to be wary of strange job offers and to visit preventionversuscure.com to verify whether an offer was legitimate and safe. The website acts as a search engine to investigate the company behind a job offer and to ensure that the job seeker will not be subjected to a human-trafficking scam.

Read about 13 youths who were tricked into a false intership: Alleged fraudster arrested at the last moment 

Victims are usually tricked, transported, trapped and used, and the children were taught to identify these signs.

The steps to avoid human trafficking were illustrated using their hands. The thumb is called “never alone” and learners were urged to never go anywhere alone.

Chairman Corinne Sandenbergh teaches learners ways to avoid being trafficked.

The index finger signifies “parents” and learners were told to notify their parents or guardians of their whereabouts.

The middle finger represented “strangers” and learners were cautioned to be wary of them. Sandenburgh told them not to hitchhike in their school clothes, not to pose for photos for strangers and to report strangers hanging around schools and chatting to fellow pupils.

The ring finger was for “personal” and is a symbol to never give out personal information such as phone numbers, addresses or location – especially on social media. The pinky stands for “strong” and is a reminder that the knowledge they have gained has made them strong.

The session was concluded by teaching the learners the national helpline number, 0800-222-777.

She urged learners to only call the number to report human trafficking and to also report any such cases or suspicions to a parent, teacher and local police station.

For more information on the organisation, visit stoptrafficking.org.za or if you would like to book an awareness session for your school or organisation, contact the local volunteer, Ms Amanda de Swardt on 072-371-8993.

Retha Nel

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