By Paschal Norbert
PRETORIA, FEBRUARY 3, 2023 (CISA)– The Catholic Church in Southern Africa has dedicated the month of February to Human Trafficking Awareness while advancing that South Africa is a ‘’hotspot for traffickers.”
“We continue to ask that the month of February be dedicated to Human Trafficking Awareness and the Feast of St Josephine Bakhita, be a Day of Prayer for the release of those suffering under the yoke of this horrific crime. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis speaks of human trafficking as an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ,” reads a letter signed by Rt Rev Joseph Kizito, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) Liaison Bishop for Migrants, Refugees and Human Trafficking and bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Aliwal North.
Bishop Kizito postulated that the Feast Day of St. Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of Sudan and victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, which is celebrated on February 8, “brings to mind the plight of those who have been trafficked, stripped of their dignity and their fundamental human rights.”
The prelate also warned the youth to be extremely vigilant as “South Africa, as we know, is a hotspot for traffickers.” He said the traffickers have engineered new ways through social media to track and recruit unsuspecting victims.
“Traffickers are increasingly turning to social media for victim recruitment and grooming. To recruit they run operations offering opportunities to escape from poverty or discontentment. They study what a potential victim posts on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram or Snap Chat and others. They pretend to understand and want to help their victims who feel misunderstood or unloved,” he said.
The Ugandan-born prelate also appealed to parents to love and safeguard their children from this reality, which he terms as a “slavery we have on our doorsteps.”