Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - "Every 5 hours a child disappears in South Africa". The dramatic data is reported by Missing Children South Africa which cites the statistics of the South African police referring to 2013. However, according to the South African organization, "kidnappings have increased dramatically in recent months and this is cause for great concern, especially when children are involved". Missing Children South Africa adds that "we deal with different types of kidnappings. There are opportunistic kidnappings, kidnappings for ransom, kidnappings to obtain organs for traditional medicine, and then there are those of human trafficking, for the purpose of labor or sexual exploitation". The organization's statistics show that at least 77% of missing children are found, but a whopping 23% of missing children remain perhaps forever. "The last known figure is from 2013, so it is very difficult to really know what the current situation is, but we as an organization see an increase in cases every year. Especially this year, the number of cases being reported to our organization is truly mind blowing", says Bianca van Aswegen, coordinator of Missing Children South Africa, who points out that there has been an increase in kidnappings for extortion and human trafficking since the end of the lockdown to contain Covid-19 in 2020. "Human trafficking has definitely increased in our country, especially during Covid-19, because people are desperate, many citizens have lost their jobs while others work from home". Online activities are another danger because, according to van Aswegen, due to the lockdown, "children are more connected to social networks; And it is precisely these platforms that criminal organizations use to lure children and lure people into illegal activities such as drug trafficking".
South Africa's unemployment rate is currently 35.3% in a country with over 60 million people. The Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to rising unemployment, as close to 2 million people have lost their jobs in the two years since March 2020 due to strict lockdowns. In order to try to survive, several people fall into the temptation of criminal activities, and some of them help human traffickers, or under the illusion that they can easily obtain wealth, they resort to "magical" practices that involve mutilation and killing of children and adolescents. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 15/11/2022)