DA: Gigaba overstated child trafficking numbers by thousands

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba’s claim that approximately 30‚000 children were being trafficked in or through South Africa annually was irresponsible‚ especially since "only 23 cases of child trafficking have been uncovered in the past three years"‚ Haniff Hoosen‚ Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister of home affairs said on Thursday.

The DA strongly condemned the exploitation of minors and adults alike‚ in trafficking situations and others‚ but the minister’s claim was "an attempt to justify new visa regulations‚ including the unabridged birth certificate for minors entering South Africa".

"The unfortunate by-product of minister Gigaba’s suspected deception is a distortion of the problem of child trafficking to save his own skin and legitimise visa regulations that have been widely criticised domestically and internationally.

In his reply to a Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary question‚ Gigaba also denied the fabrication of the figures‚ and said‚ "on average‚ the department visits three shelters per quarter. In order to identify victims‚ the department obtains information from designated social workers at the shelters and conducts interviews with the identified victims to obtain information on why and how such victims came into the country."

"This is the description of nothing more than a thumb-suck figure‚" Hoosen said.

"Various child protection groups have said that while trafficking of minors is a concern there is no conclusive research showing the actual extent of the phenomenon in South Africa.

"Minister Gigaba appears to be misleading South Africa‚ on a matter that is sensitive and delicate‚ for his own ends.

"I will therefore be writing to the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs‚ Buoang Mashile‚ to summon minister Gigaba to account to the portfolio committee on the figures and data collated by the Department of Home Affairs that appears to be false and baseless.

"It is of utmost importance that South Africa hears the truth. Minister Gigaba must come clean on these figures‚ state the true scope of the problem‚ and immediately suspend the new visa regulations with a view to withdrawing them‚" Hoosen said.