Human Trafficking in South Africa #HopeRisenFoundation

“Human Trafficking is not a crime that calls out ‘Here I am’.

It will often not be seen if it is not looked for” – A tangled Web (MMA Report – Hope Risen Foundation)


#EtchellsCares decided that the Hope Risen foundation would be the focus of our August charity drive. Our staff and agents generously donated sanitary towels and clothing. To hand over the donations and to learn more about Human Trafficking in South Africa, our #etchellsonthego team met up with the founding members of this organisation.


Most of us have watched the movie “Taken” where a father tries to reconnect with his daughter but just as she goes for her first trip with her friends, everything goes wrong. She gets kidnapped and the “pimp” is ready to exploit her, drug her and allow his friends to make use of her body as they please.

People were taken back by the impact it had on the world but did it have enough to open up our eyes to the fact that this could be someone’s reality,… each day?


Hope Risen Foundation (previously Hope for Women) started after founding member, Tabitha Lage, inadvertently encountered the phenomenon whilst working in an unrelated field. Her work took her into the townships surrounding Johannesburg, South Africa, where she formed relationships with people in the local communities. Tabitha heard stories about children who were going missing as well as allegations around money exchanges. This prompted her to look into the situations in greater detail and exposed her too the reality of human trafficking.”

William Wilberforce once said “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know”



“The action or practice of illegally transporting people from one country or area to another, typically for the purposes of forced labour or commercial sexual exploitation” – Hearing this answer we tend to think that it would never really happen in our country, to someone we know or just brush it off as the media portrays prostitutes willingly allowing this.

It’s not necessarily only for sexual abuse or only for women for that matter. Babies, Children, Men and Women could all possibly fall victim. It seems as though this “industry” has been making billions each year, in South Africa alone.


The Following has been derived from the Hope Risen Foundation Blog:

Types of Human Trafficking


Types of sexual exploitation:

  • Forced Prostitution
  • Pornography
  • Stripping
  • Exotic Dancing
  • Touch and Peep Shows
  • Escort Services
  • ‘Training’ to deal with clients who have particular fetishes


Industry examples include:

  • Brothels
  • “Massage” Parlours
  • Fetish Clubs
  • Classified Ads
  • “Gentlemen’s Clubs”



Any work that is unsuitable for the child and that will have negative impact on their social, mental, physical or emotional development.

Industry examples include:


  • Make Up (Mica Mineral)
  • Clothing
  • Carpets and Textile
  • War (Child Soldiers)
  • Coco Harvesting



Difficult, dirty or dangerous jobs.

Industry examples include:


  • Fishing
  • Mining
  • Agricultural


  • Forced to work long hours (12–16 hour days)
  • Not allowed to leave, or call home
  • Often not paid
  • Often includes other abuse too.


Industry examples:

  • Private Homes
  • Hospitality Industry
  • Au Pair Industry


  • Often much older men abducting or buying much younger girls.
  • Distortion of traditional cultural practices.

This is the forced removal and illegal sale of organs / body parts.

Industry examples:

  • Black Market
  • “Muthi”
  • Medical Field (those willing to pay very high sums to skip the ‘system’)

How does this happen?

The local context and specific situation will determine who is most at risk and how they will be exploited.


  • Gangs & Organised Crime Syndicates
  • Friends
  • Family Members
  • Acquaintances (someone who knows someone)
  • 54% of cases involve strangers vs 46% of cases involve someone the victim already knows.

Facilitators include:

  • Brothel & Strip Club Owners and Pimps
  • Transport Providers
  • Government Officials
  • Professional Individuals


The following Red Flags can be used to help identify potential Human Trafficking cases. If you have come across an incident that may have the following Red Flags it is important to report that to your local police station or to the HFW contact line.

  • No local dialects
  • New arrival in the country
  • Lack of documentation / documents controlled by someone else
  • Debt bondage
  • Child accompanied by an unrelated adult
  • Submissive / signs of fear / depression / extreme nervousness
  • Lack of freedom to move
  • Watched 24/7 or living with employer
  • Poor living conditions
  • Answers appear scripted or rehearsed
  • Give a vague / inconsistent explanation of where they live and work
  • Appears to move location frequently
  • Unpaid or paid very little
  • Stockholm Syndrome
  • Under 18 and in prostitution / providing commercial sex acts
  • Serious injuries left untreated & vague or reluctant to explain
  • Evidence of long term multiple injuries
  • Signs of physical abuse or general physical neglect
  • Branding tattoos
  • Indications of mental, physical or sexual trauma
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Pregnant / previous abortions
  • Drug addiction
  • Disordered eating or poor nutrition
  • Evidence of self-harm
  • Dental pain
  • Fatigue
  • Non-specific symptoms of PTSD
  • Symptoms of psychiatric and psychological distress
  • Back or stomach pain, skin problems, headaches and dizzy spells




Be a Voice

Awareness is a huge need in South Africa — the average South African doesn’t know that Human Trafficking is a problem in our country. Email [email protected] for more details on our Anti-Human Trafficking Workshops.

  • Book a Speaker
  • Cycle for Hope
  • Raise awareness with your friends & family
  • I’M IN Campaign commit to R100 per month for a year


The following link is recorded by SABC as Tabitha Lage, CEO of Hope Risen Foundation speaks out: