n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The investigation of human trafficking : an impossible mission without elemental identification of the crime

Volume 24, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Human trafficking has not only awakened a great deal of interest within the academic world, but its inhumanness has also been seriously questioned within local communities. This concern of communities is placing increasing pressure on law enforcement agencies to act swiftly in their attempts to prevent and combat this daunting crime. Although research on human trafficking in South Africa is still in its infancy, it has became apparent that one of the unique challenges of combating human trafficking is the ability of investigating officers to understand and deal with the complexities of identifying and investigating this crime. The aim of this study was to provide more clarification on the general elements of this so-called hidden crime to aid investigating officers to gain a better understanding and thus be able to identify it. In-depth, individual interviews were conducted with six police investigators, currently investigating trafficking cases, with a total of 90 years' investigation experience. Content analysis was applied that provided some clarity on the difficulty experienced in identifying and understanding the crime of trafficking. Three main themes emerged, namely the elements of the crime, its prevalence and the identification of the crime. The results of the research provide practical guidelines and recommendations to assist police officials to more successfully investigate these cases.

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