Body Parts Trafficking an undercover market in SA

Human trafficking has become the second fastest growing criminal industry in the world, after illegal drugs.

It is commonly believed that trafficking only takes place for sexual exploitation or for forced labour however human trafficking takes place in many forms such as body parts trafficking or organ trade.

South African Network Against Trafficking and Abuse of Children (SANTAC) Carol Bews says body parts trafficking is a sad South African reality.

"The use of body human parts or taking without a person's permission, so basically killing a person and using their body parts for medicinal purposes."

According United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) says body trafficking takes place in three broad categories.

• Firstly, there are cases where traffickers force or deceive the victims into giving up an organ.

• Secondly, there are cases where victims formally or informally agree to sell an organ and are cheated because they are not paid for the organ or are paid less than the promised price.

• Thirdly, vulnerable persons are treated for an ailment, which may or may not exist and thereupon organs are removed without the victim's knowledge.

Albinos targets of body parts trafficking

Bews states that certain body parts in South Africa are more important for traffickers.

"Certain body parts from certain people are more attractive, in particular Albinos are more attractive for who want the body parts."
"It depends on what they are doing it for, the spiritualism around the body parts. So very often the sexual body parts are more attractive, lips and tongues can be very attractive however it really depends on the use of the person who is going to use those body parts."

UN Human Rights expert, Ikponwosa Ero, says attacks on people with albinism in Africa are on the rise.

The UN believes this is linked to a growing demand from political hopefuls for body parts prized in black magic, in the run up to elections in several African countries.

The UN says attacks on albino people, whose body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price, have been reported in six countries in southern and east Africa since August.

According to the Red Cross report, witch doctors will pay as much as $75 000 for a full set of albino body parts. Red Cross says witch doctors use the body parts to make spells believed to bring good luck, love and wealth.

Sexual Body Parts Attractive for Traffickers

Bews says there is a big market for body parts trafficking in the country and have been running for a while.

"How big the market is, is very difficult to tell because it is a very undercover market."

Muti-Killings in South Africa

Police say it is difficult to say how prevalent muti-killings or body parts trafficking are in South Africa, as these types of cases are normally registered as murder.

Commander of harmful occult related crimes, Colonel Attie Lamprecht speaking to SAfm says, "These types of cases are merely registered as murder."

Co-ordinator of the Traditional Healers Organisation, Phepsile Maseko, says ritual killing also known as muti-killing is not part of the traditional healing.

"It is very sad and as traditional healers we have to constantly defend ourselves and how we work, but it is important that we educate people," says Maseko.

Maseko reiterates that in the practice of traditional healing, human tissue is not used for healing.

Ritual killings and human sacrifice happen in many, if not all countries in Africa. According to reports in South Africa body parts can be sold for as little as R3000.

Image courtesy: Reuters

Report by Neo Motloung