IOM Report Finds Migrants Entering Musina from Zimbabwe Vulnerable to Human Trafficking


A report released this week by the IOM office in Musina, in South
Africa's Limpopo Province, has found evidence of the trafficking of
migrants entering South Africa from Zimbabwe.

The report, "Wolves in Sheep's Skin: A Rapid Assessment of Human
Trafficking in Musina, Limpopo Province of South Africa", finds
that migrants in the region are regularly subjected to high levels
of abuse and violence, which in turn makes them vulnerable to

It specifically identifies cases involving trafficking for
sexual and labour exploitation, forced criminal activity such as
the sale of illegal substances, servitude, extortion and other
forms of exploitation.

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target="_blank" title="">Wolves in Sheep's Skin: A Rapid
Assessment of Human Trafficking in Musina, Limpopo Province of
South Africa

The report, which was launched by IOM Deputy Director General
Laura Thompson, found that some migrant groups are particularly at
risk, such as victims of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV);
those who have been stranded, robbed or subjected to other forms of
violence; women and girls involved in prostitution and
transactional sexual behaviour; and unaccompanied minors travelling
alone or with adults.

Situated approximately 20 km from the Zimbabwean border, Musina
is the point of entry for a large number of Zimbabwean migrants. A
total of 130 respondents from Zimbabwe and South Africa were
interviewed in August 2009, including migrants, government
officials, service providers, farm managers and so called malaisha
or taxi drivers, frequently involved in human smuggling. 

Identified factors contributing to migrant vulnerability include
the political and socio-economic insatiability in Zimbabwe, the
lack of adequate border controls, difficulty in obtaining travel
documents, the establishment of informal criminal networks, an
increase in the movement of women and unaccompanied minors, and a
lack of awareness and experience regarding safe migration.

The report also notes that addressing the incidence of violence
and abuse reported by migrants – and particularly by women
and children – is as critical as the issue of human
trafficking itself.

The assessment also revealed that migrants in Musina are
vulnerable to a range of health care concerns such as sexually
transmitted infections (STIs) and reproductive health problems,
physical trauma, negative psychosocial reactions, malnutrition and
limited access to health care. 

The report identifies shortfalls in policy and practice with
regard to human trafficking in Musina, including insufficient
capacity of law enforcement and border officials to identify cases
of human trafficking; inadequate referral, shelter and assistance
networks; and deficient investigation and prosecution of incidences
of abuse and violence against migrants.

Related to these is the fact that many of the abuses occur along
the Limpopo River, making jurisdiction difficult to determine.

Recommendations from the report include:

  • increasing the ability of communities, service providers, and
    law enforcement officials to identify and provide assistance to
    cases of human trafficking; 
  • establishing reporting mechanisms such as hotlines, coupled
    with the provision of incentives for victims to report cases;
  • expanding existing referral and assistance networks;
  • capacity building of healthcare systems regarding timely,
    gender-sensitive and child-friendly assistance to victims of
    trafficking, exploitation and SGBV-related crimes; and
  • conducting prevention activities towards vulnerable groups and
    information campaigns on human trafficking and safe migration.

The report, which is funded by the Norwegian Embassy in South
Africa, is available online at "paragraph-link-no-underline-bold" href=

For more information, please contact:

Nde Ndifonka

IOM Pretoria

Tel: +27 71 689 99 66

E-mail: "mailto:[email protected]">[email protected]