Social Worker, Neliswa Mtshabe during a TIP Forum Meeting at Germiston Office

By Phetoho Maja

  • During Youth Month, we spotlight Neliswa Mtshabe, a 37-year-old social worker dedicated to assisting vulnerable communities in Ekurhuleni, addressing issues like human trafficking, poverty, hunger, and inequality.
  • Despite limited resources, Mtshabe’s passion for combating human trafficking, particularly in the hotspot near OR Tambo International Airport, remains steadfast.
  • Her collaborative efforts with various departments and NGOs highlight the importance of multidisciplinary approaches in rescuing victims and bringing perpetrators to justice.

During this month dedicated to youth, we shine a light on individuals like 37-year-old Neliswa Mtshabe, whose unwavering commitment goes beyond the call of duty to assist vulnerable communities facing violations and socio-economic challenges such as poverty, hunger, and inequality.

Mtshabe serves as a Social Worker and Adult Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Ambassador at the Kempton Park Office under the GBV Unit, focusing her efforts on the bustling Ekurhuleni Region. Despite facing resource constraints, her passion for combating human trafficking remains undeterred.

“Ekurhuleni, due to its proximity to OR Tambo International Airport, is a hotspot for human trafficking,” explains Mtshabe. “Our cases often involve prostitution and forced labour.”

Recently, she led efforts to rescue eight Thai nationals trafficked into South Africa, revealing the grim reality of exploitation they faced. “They were lured through social media, specifically Facebook, and transported to South Africa by a brothel owner,” Mtshabe recounts. “Upon arrival, they were forced into unpaid labour at a brothel, trapped and exploited.”

Acknowledging the collaborative effort crucial to their success, Mtshabe credits multidisciplinary teams including HAWKS, SAPS, the Department of Health, Justice and Constitutional Development, and NGOs. Together, they strive to achieve their mission of rescuing victims and bringing perpetrators to justice.

The Gauteng Department of Social Development ensured immediate shelter for the rescued victims, underscoring their commitment to providing safe havens and support services. “Trafficking can happen to anyone,” Mtshabe emphasises. “We urge communities and department employees to report suspected cases to their Regional TIP Ambassadors.”

She stresses ongoing capacity-building initiatives within and outside the department to educate and empower communities against this pervasive crime. As outlined in the Trafficking in Persons Act 7/2013, trafficking involves coercive methods to exploit individuals for labour or sexual purposes. Mtshabe’s dedication exemplifies the department’s proactive stance in combating this scourge, protecting vulnerable individuals, and advocating for their rights.

Picture taken By: Phetoho Maja

Leave a reply