THERE has been an increase in the number of cases where Namibians illegally bring in Angolan nationals into the country to serve as cheap labour.
Police deputy inspector general for operations, Oscar Embubulu said many of the young people herding cattle in the northern regions are found to have come from Angola and trafficked to Namibia.
He made the revelation at an event to mark World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (TiP) in Windhoek yesterday.
Embululu said the ‘imported’ labourers make up most cases of the human trafficking cases reported in the country, as these cattle herders hardly have citizenship documents and are found to be under age.
“We have cases where Angolans are being used to herd cattle for Namibian livestock owners, sometimes at very low wages.
They are usually smuggled into the country because they do not come in with passports, and are put in charge of caring for the cattle,” Embubulu explained.
Other forms of trafficking involve the sexual exploitation of mostly children, who end up stuck in brothels, and being subjected to child pornography. Then, there are drug dealers who lure people into becoming drug mules to smuggle illicit substances across Namibian borders.
“Although sexual trafficking is very rare here, we have drug dealers who traffic people to go and do business abroad. In the process, they may also be used to courier drugs,” Embubulu said.
He did not provide a breakdown of the figures of sex trafficking.
Embululu, however, revealed that the police is investigating 15 cases of human trafficking, while another 20 cases are already on the court roll pending trial.
Special adviser to the governor of Khomas region, Rosalia Mwashekele-Sibiya said in most cases, poverty, limited access to healthcare, a lack of education, the high unemployment rate and a general lack of opportunities make people vulnerable to human trafficking.
She stated that child-headed households, where teenagers are often left alone to take care of their younger siblings, also play a major role in human trafficking cases.
“This often leads to some women and girls begging for survival, and they are usually exposed to criminal trafficking syndicates who prey on their vulnerability,” she added.
Deputy international relations minister Christine //Hoëbes said Namibia has passed the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act no 1 of 2018, and is now finalising the regulations for the law to become operational.
“Although the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act is not yet in force, trafficking in persons is criminalised under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, Act 29 of 2004,” she noted.
//Hoebes said Namibia has also made great strides in caring for victims of human trafficking.
“Services such as medical care, psycho-social support, legal assistance and shelter are extended to them,” she added.
Namibia is party to many human rights instruments, such as the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1992), the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime, amongst others.
Addressing the diplomatic corps on Monday, international relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said the government had finalised a national referral mechanism and standard operation procedures to guide frontline officials in identifying victims as well as the provision of protective services.
A baseline study on human trafficking conducted by the gender equality ministry in 2009 states that human trafficking occurs transnationally and within Namibia.
Another report by the US department of state titled ‘Trafficking in Persons’ last year said Namibia is a source and destination country for children subjected to sex trafficking or forced labour. The report is released on an annual basis.
Highly affected regions are Zambezi, Kavango East and West as well as Ohangwena, particularly at the Oshikango border post, the report said.