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Head of SA Witness Protection Programme pays UFS a visit
2010-05-04

 
Receiving the Head of the South African Witness Protection Programme are, in front: Prof. Hennie Oosthuizen, Head of the Department of Criminal and Medical Law at the UFS; back: Adv. Beatri Kruger from the UFS Unit for Children’s Rights, Ms Lani Opperman, Member of the Free State Human Trafficking Forum (FHF), Adv. John Welch, Head of the Witness Protection Programme in South Africa; and Lene van Zyl, a LLM student at the UFS who is doing her thesis on human trafficking in body parts.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs


Recently Adv. Beatri Kruger from the Unit for Children’s Rights in the Faculty of Law at the University of the Free State (UFS) invited Adv. John Welch, Head of the Witness Protection Programme in South Africa, to address the Free State Human Trafficking Forum (FHF) on the safe-keeping of victims who are witnesses against human traffickers.

Human trafficking is prevalent in the Free State, especially in Bloemfontein. The Unit for Children’s Rights is one of the founding members of the FHF that was established to take action against and fight the disturbing reality of human trafficking more efficiently.

According to Adv. Kruger the FHF identified the problem of trafficked witnesses being threatened by human trafficker syndicates.

Adv. Welch made some suggestions with regard to the safe-keeping of trafficked victims. He also, with some of the forum members, paid a visit to the areas in Bloemfontein where human trafficking is prevalent as well as to the local shelter for trafficked victims.

Adv. Welch undertook to join forces with the FHF in assisting trafficked victims and the local Witness Protection Programme Office is now a member of the forum.

Since December 2009 members of the FHF managed to disrupt the work of the human trafficking syndicates. “The traffickers have not stopped this inhumane practice but there are indications that they have moved to other buildings in the inner city and even to houses in the suburbs. It was reported to the forum that approximately 27 males suspected of being involved in human trafficking had been arrested, and since they are illegal in the country, they were deported to their countries of origin,” said Adv. Kruger.

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