By Marianne Nghidengwa
THERE are about 3 400 victims of modern day slavery in Windhoek of which 200 are victims of human trafficking, a report on modern day slavery and practices of new religious movements by NamRights reveals.
The report was based on latest startling figures released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which estimated that there are at least 20 900 modern day slaves in Namibia, out of 36 million people trapped in slavery the world over.
According to the report, the victims are trapped in various forms of slavery including forced labour, sexual exploitation, child abuse, domestic servitude and criminal activities.
The report further reveals that most of the modern day slaves are predominantly children, both boys and girls under the age of 18, trafficked mainly from southern parts of Angola. This is attributed to the fact that they speak various local languages spoken in both southern Angola and adjacent northern parts of Namibia including Kwanyama, Mbadja, Umbundu, Nkumbi and Zemba. The children are mainly employed as street vendors at informal markets as well as domestic workers in northern and western informal areas of Windhoek including Okahandja Park, Okuryangava, Hakahana, Havana and Goreangab Dam.
“… Windhoek has 380 000 and Namibia’s population is 2 303 000 and taking into consideration the fact that there is an estimated 20 900 modern day slaves in the country, then there is on average per capita 3 400 modern day slaves victims in Windhoek alone. There could also be at least 1 700 transitionally trafficked victims in Windhoek alone,” reads part of the report.
Confidente last year exposed that at least 40 Angolan youngsters aged between 13 and 25 years were trafficked into Namibia and turned into child labourers and modern day slaves by an unidentified man who was being sought after by the local police. Some of the children came to Namibia when they were as young as 10 years old. The youngsters who were taken from their families in Angola in a course of two years under the pretext that they would be coming to Namibia to study, work almost round the clock preparing and selling food stuff like mealie-cobs, sweets, eggs and airtime recharge vouchers in Katutura’s informal settlements. The youngsters are not paid a single cent for their efforts – all they get for their hard work is a makeshift dwelling that comes with no water and electricity and a few morsels of food a day.
Over a year later after the youngsters’ plight surfaced, many still roam the streets selling various items while dressed in tattered clothes that barely cover the most sacred parts of their skinny bodies that are clearly crying out for a decent bath and worn out shoes.
The youngsters are faced with a cumbersome task of waking up at midnight in preparation of the mealie-cobs and days of work start at 4 a.m. Their absence from school could well have placed their future in the shade.
There were however conflicting accounts of who brought them to Namibia with most saying that their relatives were involved in their coming to Namibia.
Meanwhile the report further outlines that other vulnerable people such as women and children are also falling prey to the abusive, deceptive and exploitative practices of certain new religious movements in the same areas of Windhoek.
According to the report, amongst a host of modern day slavery causes are the civil, cultural, political, religious and socio-economic factors in the home countries of victims. “These factors include civil unrest, internal conflict, war, natural disasters, political oppression, poverty and a general lack of opportunity. Primary victims may be economic migrants, political asylum seekers, those rendered homeless or jobless by natural disasters or civil conflicts or individuals looking for a better way of life,” the report reads.
Meanwhile, City Police Chief Abraham Kanime said that the figures could be a true reflection of what is happening on the ground adding that his team has been for the past two years investigating how youngsters selling items on streets got to Namibia.
“It’s an issue we are dealing with on a daily basis. It’s more difficult however if a person for instance is Namibian as opposed to a foreigner. But our work into the matter continues.”
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015