South Africa “a hotspot for traffickers”, Catholic Bishop Laments, Calls for Vigilance

Bishop Joseph Mary Kizito, iaison Bishop for Migrants, Refugees, and Human Trafficking at the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC). Credit: Courtesy Photo

South Africa “is a hotspot for traffickers”, the Liaison Bishop for Migrants, Refugees, and Human Trafficking at the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has said, and called upon South Africans, especially the youth, to exercise vigilance.

In a Thursday, February 2 statement, Bishop Joseph Mary Kizito also called on the people of God in South Africa to dedicate the month of February to creating awareness about human trafficking. 

“South Africa, as we know, is a hotspot for traffickers. We appeal especially to our youth to be vigilant,” Bishop Kizito says in the statement issued ahead of the Feast Day of St. Josephine Bakhita on February 8, the patron saint of victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Bishop Kizito has also called on parents to protect their children, saying, “The best gift you can give your children is to love and safeguard them.”

The Bishop of South Africa’s Catholic Diocese of Aliwal Diocese says traffickers are turning to social media for recruiting and grooming their victims. 


“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 Snapchat, and others. They pretend to understand and want to help their victims who feel misunderstood or unloved,” says Bishop Kizito.

the Ugandan-born Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Aliwal Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in February 2020 highlights the case of a young lady who was lucky to escape from traffickers.  

“Not long ago,” Bishop Kizito said, “as a young lady approached a particular ‘office’ of a building in the center of town, the porter stopped her and whispered: ‘if you go in there you will not come out; I am serious’” 

He continued, “Later, as she recounted her panic, she also mentioned that she had not followed her initial instinct regarding the job on offer, considering it may be a bit too good to be true but then it was only a maybe and there was nothing to lose in going for that interview.”

“She was fortunate. Sadly though, it is not so for the many who remain lost to society,” he said. 

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A recent report by Laser Pulse Project in collaboration with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) says South Africa is a source, transit, and destination for human trafficking. 

The report indicates that a majority of the human trafficking cases involve sex trafficking, while labor trafficking cases are limited. 

In his February 2 statement, Bishop Kizito urges South Africans to dedicate the month of February 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.”

“Let us go forward with courage and faith imploring the blessing of Jesus our Savior, the prayers of Mary our Mother and Joseph her spouse, the Holy Family of Nazareth and Saint Josephine Bakhita,” says Bishop Kizito.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.