Don’t Believe the Human Trafficking ‘WARNINGS’
John Preller
is chairman of the
Community Police Forum
and is a very
involved and pro-active member of the Port Elizabeth community.

John Preller's Crime Column - Humewood Community Police Forum, Port Elizabeth

Believe the Human Trafficking ‘WARNINGS’

will either find a way, or make one”
Hannibal 247 – 183 B.C. Carthaginian General

As the
World Cup approaches, we as parents are overcome with the menacing
presence of evil human trafficker’s stalking our children.

The media are on a feeding frenzy with headlines proclaiming “Take care
of your children during Cup “as syndicates increase abduction efforts”

E-mails and sms’s are cluttering our message inbox’s with dire warnings
and reports of abductions and victims narrowly escaping the attacks of
human traffickers.

My experience is that e-mails and sms’s reporting the grim warnings
with “factual” reports are escalating at an alarming rate, and are more
numerous than media reports!

Here’s one received on my e-mail, Saturday 22 May 2010 from “a reliable
and concerned source!!!”

“Hi All,
The kid that was
nearly kidnapped is a friend of my sisters’!! Some Nigerians were
caught yesterday (i think they were in a green vehicle), the girl had
to identify them yesterday.

identification they found kids in a container at the harbour of which
one was a 13yr old boy from MTR Smit that went missing!!

They (including
the police and media) were told to keep quiet until after the 2010
soccer world cup in order not to influence possible visitors!!!

I refuse to keep
quiet, even if this was just hearsay, which i don’t believe it is, as i
know these people!!  I believe in word of mouth, i believe in
unity, f@ck this could have been my son!!

Please guys don’t
keep quiet, let this message reach whoever possible, let Customs go out
and search each and every container like they supposed to!!!

I want a Customs
Official/Media/SAPS to threaten me with a law suit, bring it on!!! I
don’t mind losing everything i have if it means I’m saving somebody’s


I have withheld the name of the author who is trying to explain this
email to the investigator of Organised Crime.

On receipt of this e-mail I referred it to the Organised Crime’s
officer working on Human Trafficking Marcel Van Der Watt, who
immediately leaped into action. Never mind that he was enjoying a well
deserved week end rest while watching a very exciting game of rugby!

Marcel spent the next four hours tracking down the facts of the email
allegations starting with the Head Dr Crystal Watson of the MTR Smit
children’s haven.

All the children attended a role call to establish if any one was
missing – all children
were present no one was missing!

There is no report with any law enforcement agency or at the Harbour!

There is no cover

I spoke to Crystal Watson this morning to ask for her permission to
name her and the MTR Smit Children’s haven in this expose of
unreliable, unconfirmed and plain irresponsible rumour mongering that
has traumatised a large group of innocent children who had to be called
out for the roll call.

Dr. Crystal Watson has every reason to be upset at the allegations and
trauma the report has caused all the children and staff in the haven.
The Haven’s reputation has been unfairly questioned by rumour.

This institution has been an oasis of hope and nurturing to vulnerable
and innocent children whose lives have been given a second chance by
the selfless work done through dedicated staff.

I applaud the dedication of Marcel Van der Watt, a very committed
Organised Crime Member of the SAPS who wasted most of his Saturday
trying clear up a paranoid, irresponsible and unreliable email report.

The children are unsettled and feeling nervous about being abducted by
human traffickers as a result of the email that claimed to be true

The author was
tracked down and has not been able to answer certain questions in spite
of ongoing requests by the SAPS.

Then there’s this
“They (including the police and media) were told
to keep quiet until after the 2010 soccer world cup in order not to
influence possible visitors!!!

Who Said This?

It’s this type of panic / paranoia message that starts lynch mobs and
anarchy. Surely, any report naming organisations or any entity should
be checked for accuracy and veracity before publication?

Let us work together with the structures that are in place to address
the challenge and not be driven by our fears that will feed paranoia.

Become an active participating member of your community, join your
local Street Committee / Neighbourhood Watch Program, join the local
Sector Crime Forum or attend meetings of your area’s Community Police
These structures report to a Cluster Community Police Forum and liaise
with the SAPS Cluster Generals to establish monitoring of service
delivery and accountability and transparency.

These community structures partner with the SAPS and work together
providing a safer place for our children and society

John Preller
Fax: 086 6661145
Cell: 084 446 7137
E-mail: jpreller[AT]

Editors Notes –
When receiving such messages PLEASE look for the truth and test it by
asking the following questions:

  • Do I trust the sender?
  • Does the sender have a proven track record of
  • Do the ‘allegations’ answer these questions – Who,
    What, When, Where, Why and How?
  • Can you easily contact the ‘author’ of the
  • Does the story have the ring of truth or
  • Is it well written – i.e. no spelling mistakes or
    grammatical errors?
  • Has it been sent over and over again to a long list
    of recipients who have a reputation for forwarding junk?

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