8 000 human trafficking victims in Namibia – report

By Confidente Reporter

NAMIBIA reportedly has around 8 000 victims of human trafficking and appears to be a destination for trafficked people, mainly women and children, according to a Commonwealth parliamentary report of 2019.

The regions with the highest rate of human trafficking cases are said to be the two Kavango regions and Zambezi, while Karas is used as transit for people being moved to and from South Africa. People are also being trafficked by sea in small boats from Walvis Bay, the report says.

However, Nampol Deputy Commissioner Sydney Philander said that the force only recorded 151 such cases since 2010 adding that suspicious cases are also being investigated.

“According to the Namibian Police Force records, we have dealt with about 151 victims of trafficking between 2010 when the first case was reported in our records up to 2020, although all of them were not admitted to shelters.

“Significant efforts are underway with all the relevant stakeholders working together to curb the scourge of trafficking in persons in Namibia.

“Yes, suspicious cases are being investigated by the Namibian Police Force.”

Philander also noted that, “To fight trafficking in persons requires a multi-sectoral approach, which is what we doing in collaboration with other stakeholders.”

The report said that with around 8 000 victims of trafficking, numbers in Namibia were much lower than in other countries in Africa. However, the report said there were two points of concern in Namibia: firstly, the prevalence rate of 3.3 percent in a country of 2.5 million is relatively high compared to other states with a similar sized population.

Secondly, the number of people being trafficked is growing at an alarming rate. “Namibia is now recognised as a source and destination of trafficked people, mainly women and children,” the report said.  It further stated that Namibian children are subjected to forced labour in agriculture, cattle herding, and domestic service, as well as to sex trafficking to Windhoek and Walvis Bay.

“Trafficking into Namibia includes children from Angola trafficked mainly for sex and forced labour – the latter also includes street vending in Windhoek and other cities, as well as into fishing and cattle herding.

“The Namibian Police Force identified 21 percent of the victims of trafficking – a vast majority being children – in Namibia as Angolans mostly exploited in the domestic labour sector. Victims are also forced in the charcoal production, construction and fishing industries,” the report found.

It is also stated in the report that in addition to Angola, children and women are also trafficked into Namibia from Zambia and Zimbabwe for prostitution to cater to the demands of tourists from southern Africa and Europe.

The report also implicates Namibia as a transit country for human trafficking from South Africa to Angola and Zambia. “Poverty, unemployment, low levels of education and family instability make people vulnerable to trafficking. Trafficking has increased to supply increasing demand for cheap labour and the thriving commercial sex industry.

‘Poor border control, lack of surveillance and screening equipment, lack of trained personnel, and weaknesses in the birth and identity registration system’ have made it harder to fight the rise of human trafficking.

Moreover, the report noted that as Namibians commonly house and care for children of distant relatives to provide expanded educational opportunities, in some instances these children are exploited in forced labour.

“There is a regional variation of trafficking activity with a large number of people being trafficked from regions closer to Namibia’s borders,” it found.

Contacted for comment Gender Equality and Child Welfare Minister Doreen Sioka said she had not seen the report. “Is it not a rumour? 8 000 people comrade? Where are they? Do you believe that? Why did they not send it (the report) to the government?” she asked.

Asked whether the report should be sent to her to familiarise herself because she had not seen it, the minister said it should instead be sent to the executive director as she was busy at the time.