Friday 29 May 2015 14:09
The United Nations states that individuals who are coerced into international drug smuggling should be considered victims of human trafficking.
South African citizens Thando Pendu and Babsie Nobanda are serving sentences in a Thai prison for drug smuggling – a crime they insist they were forced to commit.
According to the criteria for human trafficking identified by the UN and the International Organisation for Migration, these two should be classified as victims of human trafficking.
In the global narcotics trade there are two kinds of drug courier: beasts of burden or bait. The latter are usually coerced or tricked into becoming couriers for the sole purpose of being arrested, so professional drug mules carrying larger quantities of drugs can slip through customs undetected.
The recent execution of eight of the ‘Bali Nine’ drug smugglers in Indonesia has once again turned the world’s spotlight on the transnational drug trade and the punishment for this crime.
In Malaysia, where drug trafficking is a capital crime, a 29-year-old South African, Deon Cornelius, is currently awaiting execution.
The Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill, which tackles human trafficking, was signed into South African law in 2013. It has since been bound up in red tape which has rendered it operationally ineffectual.
While Pendu and Nobanda are destined to spend well over a decade in prison, their recruiters in South Africa have never been arrested, despite Special Assignment’s exposure of drug syndicate members who trick or coerce susceptible South Africans into becoming decoys.