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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century

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However, unemployment remains high and outdated infrastructure has constrained growth.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: 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 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 aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you. You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street. Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public and how they abuse each other. Would you like to write about market children? homeless children? Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc. There is a lot to the subject of Street Children. 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.


American musician takes on the system

Nina Harvey, People's Post, 05/12/2007

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 22 July 2011]

"A lot of organisations aimed at helping these kids simply come in and try and get them to conform without first discovering what their needs are. But in order to really help them you need to build a foundation first and not just go in and tell them what to do.

"People seem to either think they are delinquents, or they pity them, thinking they must have come from an abusive background. Yes, many of their previous circumstances may have been tough, but what people don't realise is that the street life is addictive. These kids have the freedom to move around as they please. Many of them will choose to stay where they are, living by their own rules."

And that, Brown says, is the greatest problem. "The structure in this country is flawed. Children here are making decisions for themselves they are too young to make."

Joburg lets its children speak

Emily Visser, Official Website of the City of Johannesburg, 13 December 2007

[accessed 22 July 2011]

NON-PHYSICAL NEEDS - The message that came out of the summit was clear - giving shelter to these children was not enough. Many of the children in shelters seemed to receive adequate physical care in the form of shelter, clothing, food and schooling. But their emotional and vocational needs were not being catered for satisfactorily.

Two breakaway sessions took place: in the first the children spoke freely about their experiences. All made "similar comments about their situations, and identified [similar] difficulties and shared aspirations for future improvements". Difficulties included being subjected to further abuse by so-called caregivers, constantly facing danger, being bored because of a lack of recreational facilities and peer pressure to use drugs and alcohol and engage in prostitution.

It also emerged that they found the term "street children" stigmatised them; they, in turn, saw themselves only as "ordinary human beings".

Despite the difficulties they experienced, the majority indicated that they preferred living in shelters to their own homes. "Many children acknowledged that the shelters were safer than their homes and that they were receiving an education," the report noted.

Breaking ties with the street

Vivian Attwood, Independent Online (IOL) News, June 9 2008

[accessed 22 July 2011]

Fundu Shezi (nicknamed "Bandlani") has just turned 20. He has spent more than half his life on the streets of Durban. His skull and face are badly scarred and there is an aura of great sadness about him.

"When I was a baby my mother did not want me," he says. "She threw me into an open sewer at Umlazi. A social worker found me and took me to the police. They put me in the Ocean View Children's Home. "Later I went to a foster mom, but I was unhappy. She took the government grant, but was unkind about my mother. She was looking after five children, but she drank a lot. I was with her from six years old and when I was 10 I went on the streets. "As I grew up, I started to smoke cigarettes, and then zol (dagga). I became addicted to glue on the streets. When I came here I decided to leave those things. "I have been told that I have a brother and a sister who live in a place of safety. I would like to meet them one day. I have a lot of anger towards my mother for throwing me away. I dream about it all the time. How could she do that? I have so many questions.

The glue that blinds

Independent Online (IOL) News, May 28 2008

[accessed 22 July 2011]

The young boy slumps against his crutches on a Point Road street corner, eyes misty and unfocused. His feet are twisted grotesquely, flipperlike, his skin grey from malnutrition.  He scans the throng, looking for his supplier. She will bring her covered basket, containing the glass bottles he needs to get him through another day. His skin itches with anxiety as he awaits his fix.  For just a couple of rands children living on the streets of Durban can block out the ugly reality they inhabit, and descend into a numbing parallel world for a little while; a world where there is no cold or hunger, strangers don't point and stare, and loneliness doesn't feature.

City's heart is hardening, say homeless

Rafaella Delle Donne, Independent Online (IOL) News, July 15 2007

[accessed 22 July 2011]

In the same week that thousands of blankets were distributed to shelters and charity organisations as part of GoodHopeFM's blanket drive, a homeless man claims his wife died of exposure after police took her blanket.

Under the new by-law, begging and sleeping on the streets is illegal. Essentially, it criminalises poverty, which means homeless people are resorting to hiding from police and organisations such as the Sea Point Community Police Forum to avoid arrest.

Jackson of Ons Plek said although street people do their share of annoying people, "the by-law reflects a hardening of hearts towards street people".


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