Daily Maverick: South Africa’s missing children

Originally Published at Daily Maverick

By Robyn Wolfson Vorster

According to Dr Marcel van der Watt, a former member of the Hawks with almost 20 years’ experience in human trafficking and organised crime, now from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, “not all missing children are trafficked, but many trafficked children are missing”.  

Even affluent children, targeted online, are usually groomed and lured with currency, often someone willing to listen or give them affection. Van der Watt explained that while gathering criminal intelligence as a police investigator, he spoke to numerous pimps and traffickers who boasted about using social media to “work on” multiple girls at a time for recruitment into the sex trade. One of them boastfully mentioned “more than 70 girls” he was communicating with on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

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