Anti-slavery organisation in SA gets boost from UK grant

09 May 2019 - 07:00 By Stender von Oehsen
Modern slavery poses a triple threat to the hospitality industry.
Modern slavery poses a triple threat to the hospitality industry.
Image: 123RF/Sergio Lacueva

More money is on the way to help mitigate modern forms of slavery in South Africa.

The Home Office of the UK announced a pledge to distribute £4m (about R75m) through its Modern Slavery Innovation Fund to combat forced labour around the world. Stronger Together, which launched a project to help eliminate this practice in South Africa two years ago, was one of six recipients to receive a grant.

"This money will ensure the continuation of the already good work that has been done," Caroline Poole, the SA project manager for Stronger Together, told TimesLIVE. "[It] will also allow us to extend the current scope to include more businesses and to learn more about what modern slavery could look like in South Africa."

Stronger Together partners with businesses and offers workshops that teach their clients how to diagnose and eliminate any forms of forced labour found in their supply chains.

"When we first started the programme, the concept of forced labour was not really being discussed," said Katy Winkworth, the programme manager for Stronger Together based in the UK. "[But] in our experience when businesses start our training, they are engaged."

An estimated 2.8 people per 1,000 live in slavery in SA, and the country sits at a mediocre 57th place out of 167 countries regarding the lowest prevalence of modern slavery within the country, according to the Global Slavery Index.

"A lot of work and, of course, loads of research still need to be done in SA in order to fully understand the extent of modern slavery in our country," said Poole.

Still, there is plenty of optimism considering the grant and given that South Africa was an early adopter of forced labour reform.

"It makes me proud to note that, [while] the UK Modern Slavery Act of 2015 is seen as the first act on modern slavery in the world, our Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act was actually passed in 2013," said Poole.

The project will support SA’s more recent Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons National Policy Framework which was launched on April 25 by deputy minister of justice John Jeffery.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), in 2016 24.9-million individuals worldwide still found themselves in forced labour situations.