Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world with an annual turn-over of 150 billion US dollars. In all, 248 000 people in South Africa is involved with human trafficking  and only 1% of the victims are found again, said Claudia Burger, social worker and program director at Activists Networking Against the Exploitation of Children.

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She was the guest speaker at the 2017-launch of the 1000 Women United against Domestic Violence event at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in Cape Town on Wednesday.

Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp, the master of ceremonies, addressed a packed audience and said domestic violence in South Africa is rampant and epidemic. One out of every four women is abused and a woman is raped in the country every 25 seconds.

Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp, master of ceremonies at the 1000 Women United against violence event, share the stage with Wendy Ackerman (right at the candle), platinum sponsor of the event and non-executive director of Pick ‘n Pay Holdings) and Tina Thiart (left at the candle) while Ackerman and Thiart are lighting a candle in remembrance of women and children who lost their lives as a result of domestic violence and abuse during the past calendar year.

Burger warned that a lack of emotional attachment and love, as well as indifference by parents and mentors, boils down to negligence and makes children more vulnerable to traffickers.

She also showed a video-clip of seven minutes in which the approach of a trafficker called Lover Boy to target the emotions and the vulnerability of a woman is exposed.

A trafficker will ask a woman about her day, charm her, buy her presents and presents himself as her fantasy boyfriend

Since August 2016, only 29 people in South Africa who were the victims of trafficking were found again.

“A trafficker is intentional, and we as public must be able to build significant relationships and be intentional in protecting people in South Africa,” Burger said.

“A trafficker will ask a woman about her day, charm her, buy her presents and presents himself as her fantasy boyfriend,” he said.

“Many parents will focus on buying cars, dresses and cell phones, but how much time do they spend on and how clued are they in terms of relationships (which seems to be the area on which human traffickers focus when they target any woman),” Burger asked.

Grizelda Grootboom, author of Exit, gave a gripping and emotional account of the hell of 18-years spent in prostitution and trafficking in South Africa until she escaped after a pastor had given her a package of drugs to deliver in Cape Town.

A few women in the stunned audience broke down crying after she revealed details of how she was forced into an abortion and into active prostitution three hours after the abortion.

Tina Thiart, director of HGG NPO Sustainable Solutions, said since its inception, 1000 Women United has raised R10 million for organizations in its attempt to combat and raise awareness about domestic violence in South Africa.

Sally Goodwin, Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp, master of ceremonies, and Claudia Burger, main speaker at the 1000 Women United against violence event, were part of a capacity audience at the Cape Town International Convention Centre to network and inspire South Africans to mobilize and raise their voice to stop the scourge of domestic violence and trafficking.

In 2017, the money generated will be utilized to enlarge a facility in Murraysburg where women subjected to trafficking and domestic violence, will be rehabilitated.  Some of the income will also serve to offer resources and pay professionals at a home for women and girls near Saldanha on the N7, she added. 

The Freshly Ground singer Zolani Mahola also performed at the event. Taps Muyadza, born and bred in an orphanage in Zimbabwe who later left and became a singer in the United States of America, also performed and shared his childhood-testimony.