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Human Trafficking
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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025              

Republic of South Africa

South Africa is a middle-income, emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources; well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors; a stock exchange that is 17th largest in the world; and modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region.

However, unemployment remains high and outdated infrastructure has constrained growth.

Daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era - especially poverty, lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups, and a shortage of public transportation. South African economic policy is fiscally conservative but pragmatic, focusing on controlling inflation, maintaining a budget surplus, and using state-owned enterprises to deliver basic services to low-income areas as a means to increase job growth and household income.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: Description: SouthAfrica

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in South Africa.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of child prostitution are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got started, how they survive, and how some succeed in leaving.  Perhaps your paper could focus on runaways and the abuse that led to their leaving.  Other factors of interest might be poverty, rejection, drug dependence, coercion, violence, addiction, hunger, neglect, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the manipulative and dangerous adults who control this activity.  There is a lot to the subject of Child Prostitution.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

Police Service
Country Code: 27-



Teen sex worker sells her body for R10 a time

Sbongile Dimbaza, Independent Online (IOL) News, August 20 2006

[accessed 21 July 2011]

At the tender age of 13, when most girls are still cuddling their dolls and braiding their hair, Suzy has been a prostitute for two years.  She is paid R10 for sex. But included in the deal is an extra R5 for her younger brother Fred, who waits quietly for her outside the door while she is with "a client".

Zille on drugs, decay, and child abuse

This is an edited extract from a speech delivered by Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance, to an anti-drug march in Vrededorp, Johannesburg, March 8 2008

[accessed 21 July 2011]

Child abuse is a complex problem, but it is clear that the rampant drug and alcohol abuse is a major factor driving it. When parents abuse drugs and alcohol, they neglect their children. These children are left to their own devices, at the mercy of those who prey on children.  And, when children are neglected and there are drug dealers on every street corner, it is not long before they are caught up in a cycle of drug and alcohol abuse themselves. Without the means to pay for drugs and alcohol, these children often resort to selling their bodies on the street to buy drugs. And this is what is happening here in Vrededorp, an area that has become infamous for having the highest rate of child abuse in the greater Johannesburg region.  The Teddy Bear Clinic in Johannesburg is currently caring for a 9 year old boy who was selling his body on Vrededorp's streets to pay for his addiction to crack cocaine. His is only one such case.  Children are being sold for sex right under the noses of the police. I am told that the corner of Caroline and Vygie Street is notorious for child prostitution. It is also happens to be located next to the Johannesburg Headquarters of the Flying Squad.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Runaways - Where To Turn For Help Before You Are Homeless

Rebeccas Community -- This is for anyone aged up to 13 years old who is thinking about running away

[accessed 21 July 2011]

Here are the best phone numbers to call …They are Confidential - which means they won't tell anyone about your call unless you want them to talk to somebody for you, or you are in danger.  They are open 24 Hours - it doesn't matter what time you call  In South Africa, call 08000 55555

ECPAT Country Monitoring Report [PDF]

Alessia Altamura, ECPAT International, 2013

[accessed 7 September 2020]

Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in South Africa. The report looks at protection mechanisms, responses, preventive measures, child and youth participation in fighting SEC, and makes recommendations for action against SEC.

Human Rights Reports » 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 10, 2020

[accessed 7 September 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The law prohibits commercial sexual exploitation, sale, and offering or procurement of children for prostitution and child pornography. Conviction includes fines and 10 years’ imprisonment. The Film and Publications Board maintained a website and a toll-free hotline for the public to report incidents of child pornography. On October 31, Johannes Oelofse of Alberton in Gauteng Province was sentenced to life imprisonment for conviction of repeatedly raping his mentally disabled daughter over the course of eight years.

2018 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2019

[accessed 7 September 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 1065]

South Africa is a source, transit, and destination country for child trafficking. Children are trafficked from poor rural areas or peripheral townships to urban centers, such as Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg. (2,27) Girls are mainly victimized for commercial sexual exploitation and domestic work, and boys are forced to work in street vending, food service, and begging. (2,18,28-30)

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 28 January 2000

[accessed 23 December 2010]

[39] While noting the efforts of the State party to implement legislation, policies and programs to prevent and combat the sexual exploitation of children, the Committee remains concerned at the high incidence of commercial sexual exploitation. In the light of article 34 and other related articles of the Convention, the Committee recommends that the State party undertake studies with a view to designing and implementing appropriate policies and measures, including care and rehabilitation, to prevent and combat the sexual exploitation of children.

The Curse of Child Prostitution

Vimbai Komani, The Herald, Harare, 10 April 2009

[partially accessed 21 July 2011 - access restricted]

Child prostitution, however, is not only about little girls as young boys are also increasingly being targeted.   The International Organisation for Migration has identified this as a growing problem in Chiredzi where boys are leaving for South Africa where they get work as "comforters", mainly for widows.

Prostituted girls’ parents not found

Nivashni Nair, Jun 18, 2008

This article has been archived by World Street Children News and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 21 July 2011]

Their parents did not try to find them and it seems the only person who wanted them was the pimp who sold them.  Durban police have not found the parents of two girls, aged between eight and 12, whom they rescued two weeks ago. A man had allegedly been selling them on the city’s notorious Mahatma Gandhi Road (formerly Point Road) for sex.

The girls lived on the streets and the police have not established where they come from.  They are being cared for at a safe house but, according to those who assist street children, the likelihood of the girls returning to the streets is high.

“Right now, these two little girls do not realise that they have been saved — they feel like they are being punished. One has to understand the mentality of a street child to understand why they run away,” he said.

“I am almost certain that these girls are missing the friends they bonded with on the streets and they also miss the money they were getting from the pimp.” - sccp

SA's child abuse statistics incoherent,2172,160830,00.html

[Last access date unavailable]

More than 70 young girls in the past year have been rescued from prostitution in the towns of Atlantis, Delft and Beaufort West in the Northern Cape.  More than 100 children protested today against child prostitution and human trafficking in Beaufort West. Molo Songololo spokesperson, Patrick Solomons, says it is difficult for the organisation to get the girls out of prostitution as they do not have an alternative financial solution for them.  A rehabilitation centre for child sex workers is expected to be opened in Beaufort West by April 2008.

Gateways to exploitation

Globe and Mail, Nov. 10, 2007 -- Source: ECPAT International

[accessed 7 October 2012]

SOUTH AFRICA - According to the Police Child Protection Unit in Johannesburg, about 28,000 children are engaged in prostitution and approximately 15 new girls between the age of 15 and 18 are arrested every month. A study carried out by the Khayelethu Health Centre in Diepsloot, a settlement in the north of Johannesburg, revealed that 40 per cent of girls below 16 are involved in prostitution. One in five girls is HIV-positive. Unemployment in the community is more than 50 per cent, and child prostitution takes the form of survival sexual exploitation. Schools in Kwa Zulu Natal have reported that there are prostitution rings operating in their schools where groups of girls between 11 and 16 years old frequent discos and prostitute themselves. About one-fourth of Cape Town's street children are estimated to be engaged in prostitution.

Kids ‘primed for sex jobs’

Aly Verbaan, City Vision, 01 November 2007

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 21 July 2011]

Pimps are apparently already recruiting their unsuspecting victims on the city’s streets, promising them better lives after the World Cup and stringing them along with cash and even drugs in the meantime.  A social worker, who declined to be named, told People’s Post that children, who will not even be teenagers by 2010, are being lured into prostitution by organised crime syndicates that plan to reap foreign currency by selling the youngsters to sex tourists.

But it is not only poor or neglected children who are in danger: Reports from local police stations around the country warn of teenagers being abducted at shopping malls or while walking home from school.  Their kidnappers’ intentions are to “prepare them for the World Cup”, according to the reports.

Cops bust child brothel

Noor-Jehan Yoro Badat, Kashiefa Ajam and Sheree Russouw, Independent Online (IOL) News, February 17 2007

[accessed 21 July 2011]

Police have bust two men for allegedly running brothels in Soweto and luring girls as young as 10 to work as prostitutes. Soweto police spokesperson Constable Sefako Xaba told Talk Radio 702 that the investigation followed a complaint from the parents of an 11-year-old girl.

It was alleged that at least 10 children aged between 10 and 14 years old were paid for sex.  The men, aged 24 and 28, were arrested in Emndeni and Dobsonville Gardens on Monday. Xaba said one of the men was from Venda and the other from KwaZulu Natal.  They have appeared in the Protea Magistrate's Court and have been charged with statutory rape.

Beach loos perpetuating crime

Independent Online (IOL) News, October 5 2006

[accessed 21 July 2011]

Angry Blouberg residents have called for the demolition of the beachfront toilets, which have become associated with child prostitution and drug peddling.  Locals gathered for a heated meeting in Table View last night to discuss the public toilets which beachfront residents claim have become a favoured spot for adult men to pick up young boys for sexual favours.

Poverty, drugs driving kids to sell sex on street

Derrick Spies, Safety and Security Reporter, The Herald, August 10, 2006

[accessed 21 July 2011]

Kids as young as 12 are selling sex in Central in exchange for accommodation, drugs and money.  Children running away from poverty and abuse in the poorer areas of Nelson Mandela Bay, as well as those from middle class suburbs who have developed drug dependencies, are turning up in prostitution rings operating out of Central.

Police spokesman Captain Verna Brink said a number of children, some as young as 12, had been found during police raids conducted in Central over the last two weeks.  Some of the children had been reported missing by their families in the northern areas, while others come from more affluent suburbs, and appear to have become involved in prostitution to support a drug habit.”

Street children as young as 8 being lured into prostitution by tourists

Tabelo Timse, The Herald Online News, 26 July 2006

[accessed 21 July 2011]

[accessed 5 January 2017]

Street children, some as young as eight years, are increasingly being lured into prostitution by local and foreign tourists in the Knysna area.

Police say they are aware of the problem but poverty and a culture of silence are obstacles in their attempts to prevent child prostitution.

Knysna Child Welfare has conducted several workshops on child trafficking in the Garden Route and reports that a trend has emerged that street children are being used for prostitution, drug smuggling and other crimes.

Chairman Trix Marais said there was a “vicious cycle of silence. Their parents and the community know about it but they keep quiet.”

City child sex shame

Fiona Gounden, Independent Online (IOL) News, May 27 2006

[accessed 21 July 2011]

Thousands of girls and boys, some as young as 10, are selling themselves on Durban's streets where many are making as much as R15 000 a month.

Children's groups and police are now saying the problem is out of control and that many are not selling themselves for survival but rather just for money to buy luxury items, cellphones and other teen status symbols.

Crack is sweet in Cape Town

Theuns van der Westhuizen, Die Burger, Cape Town, 2006-05-05

[accessed 21 July 2011]

He told the horror story of street children employed as drug mules between the shacks in the squatter camp of some 200 inhabitants and the station roof, empty buildings in the Culemborg area being occupied by squatters, and child prostitution in exchange for drugs.

Sex workers and clients 'made to pay bribes'

Karyn Maughan, Independent Online (IOL) News, May 24 2006

[accessed 21 July 2011]

These children are given R30 to have sex with adults, but claim that police demanded 10 times that amount not to arrest them.  "Sometimes they pick us up and drive with us for a while, and then they say they will put us in the cells with the killers if we don't give them money.

Five Years After Stockholm [PDF]

ECPAT: Fifth Report on implementation of the Agenda for Action

ECPAT International, November 2001

[accessed 13 September 2011]

[B] COUNTRY UPDATES – SOUTH AFRICA – CSEC is reported to be increasing at an alarming rate in South Africa.  According to the Police Child Protection Unit in Johannesburg, about 28,000 children are engaged in prostitution, and approximately 15 new girls between the ages of 15 and 18 are arrested every month.  About a quarter of Cape Town’s street children are engaged in prostitution. It is estimated that there are at least 32 brothels and hotels in Johannesburg in Hillbrow, Berea and Joubert Park. About 5000 young girls are prostituted in these areas.  Durban Children’s Society reports that child prostitution in the Point area is rife. In areas in central Durban like The Wheel and The Workshop, “Madams” send out young prostitutes to lure young girls. Street boys are also reportedly lured into prostitution.

Loophole may free sex predators

Kashiefa Ajam, Independent Online (IOL) News, January 29 2005

[accessed 21 July 2011]

Loopholes in the Child Care and Sexual Offences Act might allow the suspects to escape the law. This was because the legislation states that the main witnesses in these cases must be the victimized children themselves but, since most are drug addicts, they would be considered unreliable witnesses.

Our children are selling sex to survive

Philda Essop and Ashley Smith, Independent Online (IOL) News, November 9 2005

[accessed 21 July 2011]

A shocking child sex exploitation study has revealed how Cape Town children are being increasingly drawn into a web of prostitution and drug abuse - often because they are sole breadwinners.

Human Trafficking Stretches Across the Region

Moyiga Nduru, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Benoni, South Africa, June 23

[accessed 23 December 2010]

[accessed 15 November 2016]

Children's rights groups like the Cape Town-based Molo Songolo estimate that 28,000 children engage in prostitution in South Africa - and that 25 percent of prostitutes in Cape Town are children. About 5,000 young boys and girls are said to cater for foreign tourists in the city alone.  In a video clip, a 13-year-old girl says that one of her clients is a 73-year-old man.  Asked whether she is afraid of contracting HIV, a second girl (14-year-old) shrugs her shoulders and says: "It's better to die, because there is nothing to live for."

South Africa Becoming International Market for Child Sex Trade

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, February 19, 2003

[accessed 21 July 2011]

A report to the UN Commission on Human Rights says that South Africa has become a market for children sold into prostitution. Children from Angola, Mozambique, Senegal, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Eastern Europe, Thailand and China are either being lured or kidnapped in South Africa to become street prostitutes in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

No Laws Against Child Prostitution

Jo-Anne Smetherham, Daily News, Dec 18, 2003

[accessed 21 July 2011]

Children are increasingly being forced into prostitution in South Africa, with many girls being kidnapped in broad daylight at shopping malls, taxi ranks and schools.  Some girls are also alleged to have been taken from KwaZulu-Natal and sold in other provinces.  Girls aged 12 to 17 are the most common targets of the gangs, brothel owners and others - including their own mothers - who are forcing them to sell sex.

Baby Rapes Shock South Africa

Barnaby Phillips, BBC News, 11 December, 2001

[accessed 21 July 2011]

It is the latest in a series of rapes of baby girls - some of them involving children less than one year-old, which has left South Africans reeling with horror.  Every day the newspapers bring awful revelations: a nine-month-old girl gang-raped by six men; an eight-month-old raped and left by the roadside.  The government is trying to dispel a widespread rumor - that having sex with a virgin cures AIDS.  Traditional healers, or witchdoctors, are blamed for spreading this idea, and encouraging child rape.

38 000 child prostitutes in SA

South African Press Association SAPA, Pretoria, 11 May 2004

[accessed 23 December 2010]

South Africa is a major destination and source for international trafficking of children, a conference on human trafficking heard in Pretoria on Tuesday.  Susan Kreston of the Council of the National Centre for Justice and the Rule of Law in the USA told the conference - arranged by the Institute for Security Studies - that between 28 000 and 38 000 children were currently being prostituted in South Africa.  "Up to 25% of prostitutes in South Africa are children, and up to 25% of street children (are prostitutes)," she told the conference.

S Africa's Child Sex Trafficking Nightmare

BBC News, 23 November, 2000

[accessed 21 July 2011]

VIRGIN SEX MYTH - The report says the southern African myth - that Aids can be prevented by having sex with a virgin - has also contributed to the increase, as has an increased demand among foreigners for sex with black children.  Children, particularly from Angola and Mozambique, end up as prostitutes on the streets of Johannesburg and Cape Town.  Children are also being tempted or trafficked from as far away as Senegal, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda.

40 000 child prostitutes - Street children vulnerable to sex trade

A. Bolowana, 2004

[Last access date unavailable]

“I started walking around with nothing to do. That's when I met this man. To me he looked like an ordinary man, a nice guy. First he asked me if I'm hungry. Of course I'm hungry.

He takes me to a restaurant near the parlours, buys me food - hamburger and chips. I think: 'This is a treat.'

"And then he says: 'You must be tired. Why don't you come with me?' So I go home with this guy old enough to be my grandpa."

That was the start of a sexual relationship that spanned more than 10 years. Besides the "emotional" connection he could not explain, Eric said he would go back for the R10 he got "to do this little thing which disgusted me".

"This was my easy way of getting money," he said. Despite his disgust with the man - he had also molested two other friends of Eric's - he still defends him. "He wasn't like other paedophiles that would rape and molest children."

Mean Streets - Child Prostitution In South Africa

Nandi Pointer, Essence, Oct, 2001

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 21 July 2011]

An alarming number of adolescent girls, many living in the impoverished townships of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, have fled their homes to escape the violence, hunger and neglect that plague South Africa's struggling rural communities.

Child Sex Industry Booms In South Africa

LaborNews, 23 July 1996

[accessed 21 July 2011]

South Africa is well on its way to developing a child-sex tourism trade which could rival Thailand or the Philippines.  For a little food, children as young as eight can be bought in the Cape -- and very little is being done to stop the burgeoning trade in children.

Study On Black Child Prostitution Calls For Government Action Pretoria

South African Press Association SAPA, 27 May 1997

[accessed 21 July 2011]

Black child prostitutes walking the streets of Pretoria at night sell their services mainly to married white professionals, a recent study has found.  The prostitutes questioned were between 13 and 18 years old.

Abduction 1996: August Cape Town Central Business District

Rebirth Africa Life on the Continent, Child Abuse Cape Town South Africa

[accessed 18 September 2011]

Alicia, fourteen years old, on Thursday afternoon 8 August 1996: “I was walking with Arlene and Shelley on the Parade, after school. Four men we didn't know approached us. They appeared, as if from nowhere and grabbed all three of us …”




ECPAT Global Monitoring Report on the status of action against commercial exploitation of children - SOUTH AFRICA [PDF]

ECPAT International, 2007

[accessed 21 July 2011]

The occurrence of sexual exploitation of children through prostitution, child pornography and trafficking for sexual purposes has been acknowledged by the South African Government through their commitment to the Stockholm Agenda for Action and other international conventions. Despite this commitment, progress towards the reduction and elimination of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in the country has been slow and incidents of such violations against children continue to grow.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 23 December 2010]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - There are reports that child prostitution is increasing.  There have been reports that some cities are becoming destinations for tourists seeking sex with minors.  South Africa is an origin, transit, and destination country for children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2020]

CHILDREN - Child prostitution continued during the year.  NGOs provided shelter, medical, and legal assistance for child prostitutes and a hot line for victims of child abuse. The government donated land and buildings for various shelters for victims of sexual abuse, street children, and orphans.

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children, sexual intercourse with children under 16, and permitting a female under 16 to stay in a brothel for the purpose of prostitution.  The country was a destination, transit, and point of origin for the trafficking of persons, including children, from other countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe for prostitution and forced labor. A substantial number of persons were believed to be trafficked annually.  The prosecution of 2004 cases involving child prostitution in Cape Town continued at year's end.  Child prostitutes were often highly sought because of the belief that sex with them provided a cure for HIV/AIDS.

Human Rights Reports » 2000 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 23, 2001

[accessed 21 July 2011]

CHILDREN - Child prostitution is on the rise, primarily in Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg.  There reportedly has been an increase in the number of children who live on the streets, and observers believe that this circumstance has contributed to the growing number of child prostitutes.  The child sex industry increasingly has become organized, with children either being forced into prostitution or exploited by their parents to earn money for the family.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Child Prostitution – South Africa",, [accessed <date>]