South Africa Issues - 2023


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Disputes - international

South Africa-Botswana: none identified

South Africa-Eswatini: Eswatini seeks to reclaim land it says was stolen by South Africa

South Africa-Lesotho: crossborder livestock thieving, smuggling of drugs and arms, and illegal migration are problematic

South Africa-Mozambique: animal poachers cross the South Africa-Mozambique border to hunt wildlife in South Africa’s Kruger National Park; border fences were removed in some areas to allow animals to roam between nature reserves in the two countries; improved patrols, technology, and crossborder cooperation are reducing the problem

South Africa-Namibia: the governments of South Africa and Namibia have not signed or ratified the text of the 1994 Surveyor's General agreement placing the boundary in the middle of the Orange River; the location of the border could affect diamond mining rights; South Africa has always claimed that the northern bank of the Orange River is the border between the two countries, while Namibia’s constitution states that the border lies in the middle of the Orange River

South Africa-various: South Africa has placed military units to assist police operations along the border of Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique to control smuggling, poaching, and illegal migration

South Africa-Zimbabwe: Zimbabweans migrate illegally into South Africa in search of work or smuggle goods to sell at a profit back home

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 22,388 (Somalia), 15,240 (Ethiopia) (mid-year 2022); 42,167 (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (refugees and asylum seekers) (2023)

IDPs: 5,000 (2020)

Trafficking in persons

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List — South Africa does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so; the government convicted and sentenced traffickers to significant prison terms, including government officials complicit in human trafficking; it also increased the number of victims identified and the number of shelters; however, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared with the previous year to expand its anti-trafficking capacity; some victims were unable to access emergency services due to a lack of inter-agency coordination in identifying, referring, and certifying victims; for the ninth consecutive year, the government failed to promulgate implementing regulations for the 2013 Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Person Act’s immigration provisions, leaving foreign victims unable to access immigration remedies; therefore, South Africa remained on Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year (2022)

trafficking profile: Human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in South Africa, as well as South Africans abroad; traffickers recruit victims from neighboring countries and rural areas within South Africa and exploit them in sex trafficking locally and in urban centers; both adults and children, particularly those from poor and rural areas and migrants, are forced into labor in domestic service, mining, food services, construction, criminal activities, agriculture, and the fishing sector; high unemployment, low wages, and pandemic-related restrictions increased the vulnerability of exploitation, particularly of youth, Black women, and foreign migrants; traffickers recruit victims who are unemployed and struggle with substance addiction, and commonly use substance abuse to control victims, including children; parents with substance abuse addiction sometimes exploit their children in sex trafficking to pay for drugs; migrants travel from East and Southern Africa to South Africa looking for work or fleeing conflict, particularly from Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Mozambique, and are vulnerable to exploitation; official complicity in trafficking crimes, especially by police, facilitated trafficking; syndicates, often dominated by Nigerians, force women from Nigeria and countries bordering South Africa into commercial sex; South African trafficking rings exploit girls as young as 10 years old in sex trafficking; syndicates also recruit South African women to go to Europe and Asia, where some are forced into commercial sex, domestic service, or drug smuggling; Chinese business owners exploit Chinese, South African, and Malawian adults and children in factories, sweatshops, and other businesses; the Cuban government may have forced Cuban medical workers to work in South Africa (2022)

Illicit drugs

leading regional importer of chemicals used in the production of illicit drugs especially synthetic drugs;

NOTE: The information regarding South Africa on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of South Africa 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about South Africa 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 06 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.