Namibians Warned Against Child Trafficking

NAMIBIANS employing Angolan children as domestic workers and cattle herders will face prosecution if caught.

National police spokesperson deputy commissioner Kauna Shikwambi says Namibians have been arrested in the past for trafficking children from Angola to work in Namibian households.

"Trafficking in persons is generally difficult to detect and investigate, but once proven beyond reasonable doubt, labour laws as well as the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act come into effect and perpetrators will be arrested. We have had such cases before.

"There is a section in the Labour Act that prohibits child labour in Namibia until the age of 16 or 17. Children need to be in school . . . they are vulnerable to exploitation and human rights abuses," Shikwambi says.

According to the police, trafficked minors stay and work in Namibia as illegal immigrants.

"Not everyone crossing the borders illegally has the intention to commit a crime. Some are trying to escape conflict situations at home, or poverty, and they see hope across the borders in Namibia," Omusati region police crime investigations coordinator Moses Simaho says.

Ohangwena governor Walde Ndevashiya has called on the region's inhabitants to refrain from employing Angolans without work permits.

"If you employ a person without a permit, this can be construed as human trafficking, and I am discouraging people in the region from doing so as it can have serious repercussions.

"There are processes to be followed in the event that one wishes to employ a foreigner. A work permit has to be acquired from the relevant office. I am therefore discouraging the public from engaging in the illegal recruitment of Angolan nationals," Ndevashiya says.

Executive director of home affairs, immigration, safety and security Etienne Maritz says it's important for Namibian nationals to know that foreigners need work permits.

"The ministry has set up the Love Justice Project (LJP) at Oshikango to monitor incidents of trafficking, and to alert the police as well as immigration officers, and those entering illegally will be dealt with in terms of the Immigration Control Act," Maritz says.

Angolans are often employed as domestic workers in Namibia due to Namibians avoiding the required minimum wage of N$1 300 per month for domestic work.

Many local jobseekers say they have been left stranded due to Angolans offering work for less.

"We are at the losing end. These people just go to Oshikango where they know someone would organise them someone from Angola," Lydia Shiwavanu from Oshakati says.

Many jobseekers flock to Oshakati's Namibian Broadcasting Corporation's office hoping potential employers would pass by and offer them work.

"Even if someone comes along and picks you, issues will arise when it comes to wages. There shouldn't be any negotiation, because these people already know how much we are to be paid . . . " Cecilia Nghole says.

Paulina Haiduwa, an Ongwediva resident, says she has always employed Angolan nationals to look after her home and children.

"I only employ Angolans. They are hard-working and efficient. They are not problematic and will not steal from you . . . I didn"t know it was illegal to employ Angolans," she says.

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