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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                        

Republic of Mozambique

At independence in 1975, Mozambique was one of the world's poorest countries. Socialist mismanagement and a brutal civil war from 1977-92 exacerbated the situation.

Mozambique remains dependent upon foreign assistance for much of its annual budget, and the majority of the population remains below the poverty line. Subsistence agriculture continues to employ the vast majority of the country's work force. A substantial trade imbalance persists although the opening of the Mozal aluminum smelter, the country's largest foreign investment project to date, has increased export earnings.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Mozambique

Mozambique is a source and, to a much lesser extent, a destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. The use of forced and bonded child laborers is a common practice in Mozambique's rural areas, often with the complicity of family members. Women and girls, often with promises of employment or education, are trafficked from rural to urban areas of Mozambique, as well as to South Africa, for domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation; young men and boys are trafficked to South Africa for farm work and mining. Trafficked Mozambicans often labor for months in South Africa without pay and under coercive conditions before their exploiters have them arrested and deported as illegal migrants.

A recent NGO report found that human trafficking of Mozambican children and adults for the forcible removal of body parts is significant; so-called witchdoctors in Mozambique and South Africa seek various body parts of live victims for traditional medical concoctions commonly purchased to heal illness, foster economic advancement, or hurt enemies. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009  Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Mozambique.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated 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 Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  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

Ministry of Interior

21 303510

Ministry of Justice

21 494264

Country code: 258-



Mozambique tries to curb human trafficking

Reuters, Maputo, July 25, 2007

[accessed 22 February 2011]

Mozambique has not prosecuted anyone for human trafficking. Efforts to do so have been handicapped by the former Portuguese colony's general tolerance of child labor, which is common in its rural areas, as well as its weak border controls.  Smugglers have seized on the country's complacent attitude, arranging for young men and boys to be sent to work on farms and mines, and young girls to be sold into domestic servitude and to brothels in neighboring southern African nations.

Authorities said the smuggling networks were usually small operations run by Mozambicans and South Africans. South Africa is one of the major destinations for those who fall prey to the human traffickers.  An estimated 1,000 Mozambican women and children are trafficked to South Africa each year, according to a recent study by the International Organization on Migration (IOM).

Human trafficking rife in SA

Lebogang Seale, Independent Online (IOL) News, December 7 2006

[accessed 22 February 2011]

They are promised a better life in South Africa, but instead they are kidnapped, branded and sold into sexual slavery for as little as R380.  Women and children, some as young as 13, are falling prey to syndicates operating in Mozambique and Swaziland, trafficking and smuggling them to South Africa on an unprecedented scale.

Six held over nun's murder in Mozambique

The Australian,  2 March 2004

[accessed 22 February 2011]

[accessed 13 January 2020]

Four missionary nuns living in the same town told Portuguese radio TSF last week that they had recently had a narrow escape from an armed ambush after presenting what they said was evidence that local children were being killed so that their organs could be sold.  The four nuns told a Spanish newspaper earlier this month that they had gathered testimony from would-be victims of the network who had managed to escape and had photographs of dead children with missing organs.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Human Trafficking In Mozambique

Katherine Lucht, The Borgen Project, 17 February 2021

[accessed 23 February 2021]

CHILD LABOR -- In 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor stated that 22.5% of Mozambique’s population between the ages of 5 to 14 are working, while only 69.5% of children within this age group attend school. Of this 69.5%, only 52% complete their education. While the government has enacted policies such as the Prohibition of Child Trafficking in the most recent Penal Code that Mozambique enacted in June 2020 to push back against the predatory nature of human trafficking, the country has consistently struggled to adapt the infrastructure necessary to enforce these policies. The lack of manpower in the justice system limits its effectiveness and leaves a gap in Mozambique’s ability to prevent further trafficking.

Religious sisters fight human trafficking in Mozambique

Crux Staff, Yaounde', Cameroon, 1 April 2020

[accessed 1 April 2020]

WHO ARE USUALLY THE VICTIMS? -- The majority of trafficked people are women, globally they represent 72 percent of the total. The percentage is more if we consider only human trafficking for sexual exploitation. The main region of recruitment of young girl for sexual exploitation in Mozambique in in the south of the country, close to the capital Maputo. Men and boys are also trafficked to South Africa for forced labor in mines and farms.

In Mozambique there is also a high number of boys who are victims of human trafficking for the purpose of organs removal or body parts. This is believed to be a practice connected with witchcraft.

Also in Mozambique, undocumented migrants are at high risk of being trafficked. Many undocumented migrants smuggled from South Asian and other African countries to South Africa are transported through the country. In the Mozambican ports were also identified South Asian men exploited in slavery-like conditions on vessels for the fishing industry.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Mozambique

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 17 June 2021]


There was limited evidence of forced labor and forced child labor in the mining, domestic service, and agricultural sectors. Girls and women from rural areas, as well as migrant workers from bordering countries, were lured to cities with false promises of employment or education and exploited in domestic servitude and sex trafficking.


Child labor remained a problem. NGOs reported some girls who migrated from rural areas to urban centers to work as domestic help for extended family or acquaintances to settle debts were vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation (see section 6, Children). Mothers who did not complete secondary school were more likely to have children involved in child labor. Due to economic necessity, especially in rural areas, children worked in agriculture, as domestic employees, or in prostitution.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 3 May 2020]


Many women and girls from rural areas are at risk of becoming drawn into sex trafficking and domestic servitude. Government efforts to confront trafficking are improving but remain inadequate, according to the US State Department’s most recent Trafficking in Persons Report, but authorities have made increased efforts to investigate trafficking claims and prosecute traffickers.

Child labor is permitted for children between 15 and 17 years old with a government permit. However, children under 15 frequently labor in the agriculture, mining, and fishing sectors, where they often work long hours and do not attend school. According to an August 2017 report released by the Ministry of Labor, Employment, and Social Security, more than one million children between the ages of 7 and 17 are actively employed.

2017 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, 2018

[accessed 19 April 2019]

[accessed 3 May 2020]

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

[page 717]

Mozambican children, lured from rural areas with promises of work and educational opportunities, are subjected to forced domestic work and commercial sexual exploitation in urban areas in Mozambique and South Africa. (10; 14; 2) Research indicates that Mozambican children are also trafficked to South Africa for forced labor in agriculture, street vending, and commercial sexual exploitation. (10; 2).

UN urges action on 'scary' levels of trafficking in southern Africa

Agence France-Presse AFP, Pretoria, Sept 3, 2007

[accessed 7 July 2013]

‘None of the countries in southern Africa has specific anti-human trafficking legislation in place,' Thomas Zindl-Cronin of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) told reporters in Johannesburg.  Specific legislation to tackle the issue was needed to help the law enforcement agencies get to grips with the situation.  'South Africa and Mozambique are more advanced than the rest of the region, but the capacity of the police and the judiciary to deal with the problem is low.’

Human traffickers thrive in Mozambique

Fred Katerere, The Citizen, South African Press Association SAPA, Maputo, 27 March 2007

[accessed 22 February 2011]

Daring human traffickers are taking advantage of Mozambique’s weak adoption laws in order to traffic children out of the country for the purposes of prostitution or cheap labour, Vista News reported on Tuesday.

A 2003 study on trafficking in the region by the International Organization on Migration (IOM) estimated that 1000 Mozambican women and children were being trafficked to South Africa every year for sexual exploitation.  Mabunda maintained that although cases of cross-border human trafficking received most attention in the media, trafficking by local crime syndicates was by far the most prominent form of the crime.  The main reason for the practice was the extreme poverty besetting most people, and a culture that allowed girls to be married off at an extremely young age.

Human, drug trafficking at border on the rise

South African Press Association SAPA Maputo, March 6 2007

[accessed 22 February 2011]

"We are currently not pre-occupied with people who enter illegally into South Africa or Swaziland to buy two or three kilograms of rice, but those who use the illegal points for criminal activities," she said.  Apart from facilitating human trafficking, she said these points also assisted criminals to traffic drugs and illegal arms between the countries.

Organisations working with trafficked women say more than 1000 Mozambican women are trafficked each year, mostly to South Africa.

Seduction, Sale & Slavery: Trafficking In Women & Children For Sexual Exploitation In Southern Africa [PDF]

Jonathan Martens, Maciej ‘Mac’ Pieczkowski, & Bernadette van Vuuren-Smyth, International Organization for Migration IOM Pretoria SA, May 2003

[accessed 23 April 2012]

[accessed 3 May 2020]

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - The major findings may be summarized as follows:

Mozambican victims include both girls and young women between the ages of 14 and 24. They are offered jobs as waitresses or sex workers in Johannesburg, and pay their traffickers ZAR 500 to smuggle them across the border in minibus taxis either at Komatipoort or Ponta do Ouro. They stay in transit houses along South Africa’s border with Mozambique and Swaziland for one night where they are sexually assaulted as an initiation for the sex work that awaits them. Once in Johannesburg, some are sold to brothels in the Central Business District (CBD) for ZAR 1000. Others are sold as slaves on private order for ZAR 550, or shopped around to mineworkers on the West Rand as ‘wives’ for ZAR 650. An estimated 1000 Mozambican victims are recruited, transported, and exploited in this way every year, earning traffickers approximately ZAR 1 million annually.

Organ traffickers 'threaten' nuns

BBC News, 13 February, 2004

[accessed 22 February 2011]

Four Catholic nuns say they have received death threats after exposing an organ trafficking network allegedly operating in northern Mozambique.  The traffickers are said to target the sex organs of children, which are sold to make magic charms.  The nuns from the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate order say they have gathered evidence of the trade.

Human Trafficking in Mozambique:- Root Causes and Recommendations [PDF]

UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO Policy Paper Poverty Series, n° 14.1 (E), Paris 2006

[accessed 22 February 2011]

[page 21]  Sixteen year-old Tobi wipes a tear from her eye as she recalls the night she was plucked from her home, forced to trek through the bush and then sold to a recruitment agent in South Africa.  She recoils from memories of being handed to a buyer in search of cheap farm labour, a nanny and sex slave, who abused her for months before she escaped to safety.  Tobi is one of the hundreds of young Mozambican girls kidnapped or lured by cash who end up mainly in South Africa every year or are shipped to Europe in an industry that is growing at breakneck speed.

Lack of legislation fuels child trafficking

December 12, 2004

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

[accessed 8 September 2011]

Recent findings revealed that children are increasingly being trafficked to be used as cheap labourers, sexual exploitation and even for criminal activities. To curb the trend, the Mozambique, Limpopo and Mpumalanga Task Team against child trafficking launched the child trafficking campaign at the Lebombo border gate between South Africa and Mozambique.

Child Trafficking Projects in southern Africa

01. 06. 2005

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

[accessed 8 September 2011]

OFFERING REFUGE - In Mozambique, girls are sometimes not even ten years old when they are sold off, mainly to be forced into prostitution. Exploitation of domestic servants is also nothing unusual. The destination for girls from Mozambique as well as neighboring countries like Zambia, Angola or Tanzania is usually the more affluent South Africa.

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Major destination for traffickers in women and children

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Johannesburg, 23 April 2004

[accessed 9 March 2015]

Mozambican women have been smuggled in by taxis because corruption in law enforcement or judicial systems helps traffickers across borders.

Child Slave Rings Rife in Southern Africa

James Hall, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Maputo, August 15, 2003

[accessed 7 July 2013]

But Leia Boaventura, an activist who is alarmed at what she sees as a growing trend in child trafficking in Southern Africa, feels that child slave rings are already operating out of Mozambique. Her organisation, Terre des Hommes, has found that foreign nationals, mostly from Russia and China, are currently involved in child slave operations.

Child slavery usually does not involve kidnapping, but a financial arrangement with the family or guardian of children who are from an impoverished background.  "Sometimes, desperate parents who cannot feed, clothe or give medical aid to their children will seek out someone to take them off their hands, to give them the necessities of life. In poor areas with underdeveloped social welfare institutions, this can mean selling a child into servitude," says Lawrence Ngwane of the refugee agency, CARITAS.

"All such deals are heartbreaking for everyone involved - the parents, the children who are torn from the womb of their families - though not for the child traffickers who can profit handsomely," he says.  An investigation by Child Network, a Mozambique non-governmental organisation, found that child trafficking currently occurs in Mahubo, in the Boane district of the Maputo province.

Mozambique: children sold for organs

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, Pravda.Ru, Lisbon Portugal, 15.10.2001

[accessed 22 February 2011]

Children are being kidnapped or sold in Mozambique and are being used in prostitution rings and forced labour rackets in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Others are less fortunate – they are killed before their vital organs are removed and sold for transplantation.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) - 2002

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1 February 2002

[accessed 22 February 2011]

[66] The Committee is concerned that  (b) Some children are victims of trafficking for the purposes of prostitution;


Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 3 May 2020]


Since 2012, human trafficking has been on the rise. Women and girls from rural areas are drawn into sex trafficking and domestic servitude. The number of investigations for trafficking decreased in 2017, but the number of prosecutions increased.

Human Rights Reports » 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 28, 2005

[accessed 10 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – Poverty, a history of child migration, and weak border controls all contributed to trafficking. In a widely cited 2003 study, the International Office on Migration (IOM) reported that approximately one thousand Mozambican women and children were trafficked to South Africa every year. Reportedly, most traffickers brought their victims to South Africa through Swaziland, where border controls were particularly weak. Trafficking victims came from both urban and rural backgrounds. The majority of victims were women and children, and they were trafficked for both sexual exploitation and forced labor. Many of the women trafficked were sold to brothels in Johannesburg or sold as concubines or "wives" to mineworkers in South Africa. Boys were trafficked as laborers on South African farms.

IOM conducted an inquiry in April that indicated women continued to be trafficked from the country and sold to mine workers at a mining district west of Johannesburg, known as the West Rand. Taxi drivers commuting between the two countries recruited young women from rural areas such as Macia and Chokwe in Gaza Province, as well as Maputo. The highway running through Maputo was another major recruiting ground for traffickers. In September South African police rescued three teenage Mozambican girls from traffickers and returned them to Mozambique.

In March police in Quelimane, Zambezia Province, arrested 2 men for attempting to sell an 11-year-old boy. The men were arrested, but it was not known whether charges were filed at year's end. In November police detained a minibus driver in the Manica Province for selling 35 children to farms and domiciles in the area. The man reportedly offered the children employment at his own residence, but instead sold them for the equivalent of $4 (100 thousand meticais). By year's end the man remained in detention pending formal charges by police.

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 22 February 2011]

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 - An increasing number of children, mostly girls, also work as domestic servants.  In some cases, children are forced to work in order to settle family debts.  Mozambique is a source country for child trafficking.

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