Most kidnappings are robberies, not trafficking – UCT expert

-South African law makes clear distinction between kidnapping and abduction

-Experts are concerned that these crimes are being conflated

-Increase in kidnappings points to the failure of policing

Social media is being flooded by reports of alleged incidents of kidnappings, which is exacerbating the level of fear and paranoia in communities. In some cases, this fear has led to incidents of violence and mob justice.

While police crime statistics show there’s been an increase in kidnappings over the past year, this does not always mean abduction or human trafficking. Crime experts say these crimes are being conflated which leads to inaccurate and misleading data.

South African law makes a clear distinction between kidnapping and abduction. Kidnapping is defined as the denial of freedom of movement for criminal ends. Abduction relates to the intentional movement of children for sexual exploitation without the parents or guardians’ consent.

In fact, kidnapping that leads to sexual crimes is by percentage only a small part of the very broad crime of what is known as kidnapping in South Africa.

Lester Kiewit chats to Dr Simon Howell from the Centre for Criminology at the University of Cape Town about the kidnapping phenomenon in South Africa

Kidnapping is a highly emotive topic and garners huge traction on social media. But these crimes often gets lumped together, when in the legal sense, they are separate and are charged as such.

Dr Simon Howell, Centre for Criminology at UCT

Where the lines get blurred is when there is kidnapping, that is not intentional.

When someone steals a car and there is a child in the backseat and they didn’t realize at the time, they can be charged with kidnapping in a court of law. So when you’re charged, it may be that you had not intended to commit that crime.

Dr Simon Howell, Centre for Criminology at UCT

Howell believes there’s been a significant failure in policing and the criminal justice system to effectively tackle crime and violence. But he adds that society has a critical role to play.

Why have we gotten to a point where this is happening? It’s not simply a policing concern. Let police and the criminal justice system deal with the consequences. As a society, we need to reflect as to what’s gone wrong.

Dr Simon Howell, Centre for Criminology at UCT

Scroll up for the interview.

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Most kidnappings are robberies, not trafficking – UCT expert

Related Articles

Don't miss