Think about this before answering, how often do you read or hear a story on human trafficking? Human trafficking is an issue that has increasingly been highlighted, however does not receive the global attention, to even fathom the very little clarity on the actual scope of this scourge.
Research conducted by Professor Beatri Kruger from the Centre for Human Rights at the University of the Free State, highlighted that for the past five years, the annual US Trafficking in Persons Reports has classified South Africa as a country of origin, transit and destination for trafficking. According to police statistics, 2 132 cases were reported to the South African Police Service from 2015 to 2017. Furthermore, apart from five empirical doctorate studies, the reality is confirmed by an increasing number of trafficking convictions.
“The system is slow. Bureaucracy is painful. How long does it take for these perpetrators to get behind bars? Sometimes I feel incredibly frustrated because, what can we do, really? But my hope is that this film will start meaningful conversations and hopefully bring about justice,’’ says Erica Wessels, who stars as Jodie Snyman, a relentless detective, who finds a common ground with a killer that systematically targets the perpetrators, who are running a powerful child-trafficking ring.
Film Director, Donovan Marsh briefly explained the research process of the film. “Our researcher, Gorgia Roberts did the harrowing job of finding the real stories of girls who were victims of human trafficking. One night, we went to an actual brothel where we found some of these underaged girls. It helped to tell authentic stories”. What makes the movie real is its delivery in the manner in which it is set against the apartheid events that took place in the 1980s.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film was where Ntombizonke (played by Hlubi Mboya), finds herself in a room with the psychologically scarred younger version of herself, taking me to a flashback of the American horror film, ‘Us’ starring Hollywood actress, Lupita Nyong’o’s character, Adelaide as a young girl, meeting an eerie mirror version of herself. “This movie has made me realise that I may not be an expert, but I can add to a bigger conversation”, says Mboya.
‘Lucia the Producer’, a group of actors and crew members chanted, celebrating her as she walked out the screening. She was the only female producer in the production. “This is the second human trafficking film I’ve done. Many girls don’t come out of these situations. I’m open to having uncomfortable conversations and get involved in portraying relatable experiences that women go through. It’s easier to feel and see the true stories through big screens like this” says Lucia Meyer-Marais.
This movie will provoke, unsettle and enrage you. It will keep you at the edge of your seat, hoping for light at the end of the tunnel but unfortunately, the 99% of human trafficking victims don’t get to experience a happy ending.
Watching this movie, I couldn’t not even bring myself to imagine how I would feel or react if this happened to me. I cannot imagine being abducted, in a dingy room being shared by twelve other victims, with disgusting, smelly, cunning rapists and pedophiles who think they rule my body and have power over me. Slowly pulling out the plug of my own life support, I would imagine my family and society being gaslit about my existence. At that moment, I would wish for Erica Wessels (Jodie Snyman) and Ntombizonke (Hlubi Mboya) to be my heroic villains.