Slavery laws not being properly implemented in SA

Slavery is illegal across the world. So why is it still happening? Kevin Bales, spokesperson for the Walk Free Foundation, says the laws are there, but they are not being properly implemented.

He says the country with the highest proportion of slavery is North Korea where a conservative estimate puts the number of enslaved people at 4%.

The recent 2016 Global Slavery Index and The Walk Free Foundation survey suggests that more than 200 000 workers are subject to forced labour in South Africa.

The legacy of apartheid, leaving many African and coloured women without education, has created a labour pool of unskilled workers who are funnelled into low-paying domestic work.

It is important to shine a spotlight on one of the most vulnerable sectors of society.

Nora Juries, general secretary of the Domestic Workers Union says she deals with many cases of domestic worker abuse and exploitation. The abuse ranges from financial exploitation, to workers not being allowed to work outside through to sexual abuse.

Mokgadi Pela, spokesperson for the Department of Labour says they need to set examples with employers that have been taken to the Labour Court and ensure the cases are publicised in the media.

But Kevin Bales made the crucial distinction between labour cases and criminal cases.

Unions play a crucial role in exposing cases where criminals are carrying out illegal assaults on those caught up in slavery...but this should not go to a labour court. It needs to go to a criminal court.

Kevin Bales, spokesperson for the Walk Free Foundation

You wouldn't say that if an employer kills a labourer, it should go to a labour court. It is murder, a serious criminal charge.

Kevin Bales, spokesperson for the Walk Free Foundation

He says governments need to draw a clear line between labour and criminal issues.

Pela says the Labour Department does work with other departments to help resolve these cases.

Bale says South Africa has strong laws dealing with human trafficking and slavery. They need to be better implemented.


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