‘Human trafficking is real’: Dirco warns of international job scams as South Africans get stuck overseas
International job scams and human trafficking cases seem to be on the rise as more South Africans are duped and get stuck in foreign countries.
Department of international relations and co-operation spokesperson Clayson Monyela this week took to social media to warn of human trafficking as the department received cases of people stuck overseas after falling for fake job adverts.
“I just got a call about a young woman from Limpopo who also fell victim to a job scam (English teacher) in Thailand. Please warn young people in your circles not to fall for these scams,” he said.
Monyela urged job seekers to contact the department before accepting offers from overseas.
His warning came amid reports of SA citizen Xolani Sidwell Fongo allegedly stuck in Cambodia.
Fongo, from Free State, reportedly went to Thailand in November 2022 for a data capturer job which turned out to be a scam.
In a post on Facebook, Fongo said: “I’m stranded in Cambodia and in need of help to be repatriated back home. I was offered a job by the HR agents through my profile on Pnet. They falsely advertised the job to be in Thailand and I ended up in Myanmar (in Asia) and it was operated by the Chinese syndicates.
“I ended up in Cambodia because my visa was not going to be extended in Thailand, I had to leave that country. My visa is expired this side and I really need help to return back.”
The department said it is dealing with the two cases.
Last week, Interpol reported human trafficking cases were on the rise.
“Initially, online scam centres were concentrated in Cambodia, with further trafficking hubs later identified in Laos and Myanmar. Today, trafficking hubs have been identified in at least four more Asian countries, and there is evidence that the modus operandi is being replicated in other regions such as West Africa, where cyber-enabled financial crime is already prevalent,” Interpol said.
Interpol said human trafficking victims were subjected to forced labour, extortion through a type of debt bondage, beatings, sexual exploitation, torture, rape and even alleged organ harvesting in some cases.
The organisation said the victims were in some cases forced to conduct online fraud on other unsuspecting people.
Interpol secretary-general Jürgen Stock said anyone could fall victim to the human trafficking or online scams.
“Much stronger international police co-operation is needed to stop this crime trend from spreading further.”
Human trafficking cases have also been worrisome in Gauteng. Last month, a 53-year-old man accused of tricking a Mozambican teenager to come to South Africa for a job, only to rape her for months, appeared in the Alexandra magistrate’s court.
Hawks spokesperson Col Philani Nkwalase said the suspect, who is also from Mozambique, allegedly lured the 15-year-old by promising her a job at a spaza shop in Alexandra. The victim and her family were reportedly told that the suspect’s wife was partially blind and needed help to run the business.
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