Operation Batho Workshop
48 individuals were brought together for a Review Meeting of ‘Operation Batho’, which targets human trafficking syndicates along the Malawi-South Africa route, at the end of Phase I of the Operation.
Johannesburg, South Africa – 4-5 December 2018 – A Trafficking in Persons Operation (“Operation Batho”) Review Meeting was held this week in Johannesburg, South Africa. Representatives were drawn from INTERPOL, the United Nations, civil society, and delegates from 7 countries in the region: Botswana, Eswatini, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Delegates from the countries present at the workshop included Heads of Criminal Investigation Departments (CID) and Heads of Intelligence, Immigration focal points (at director level), Prosecution focal points, and representatives from Social Services. A total of forty-eight (48) participants attended the workshop, which was presided over by Deven Naicker of INTERPOL Regional Bureau Harare, and Mrs. Samantha Munodawafa of UNODC.
The workshop sought to facilitate review of Phase I of Operation Batho, a counter-trafficking in persons operation targeting human trafficking syndicates along the Malawi-South Africa route. This Operation was implemented during the period August – October 2018 following a resolution of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (SARPCCO) and a pre-planning meeting for the Operation in Pretoria, which brought together heads of CID and crime intelligence from countries along this route on 13 June 2018.
Highlights included arrests of more than 21 suspected traffickers and the rescue of 87 victims. Most of the investigations are still pending in these cases, but one conviction has been obtained in Malawi, resulting in an 8-year conviction of three traffickers.
The meeting proved highly fruitful and over the two days participants shared a vast array of innovative approaches to target human trafficking syndicates. Based on the success of Phase I of the Operation, and the fact that TIP is still rife in the region, there are plans to continue similar operations in the future.