Child trafficking is on the increase in parts of drought-hit Opuwo and Ruacana, where some desperate parents who are not registered for any State grants are said to be swapping their daughters for money to survive. This resulted in the arrest of a South African national, Kenneth Karner (66), for human trafficking and child sex.
The suspect appeared before the Outapi Magistrate’s Court in Omusati region following his arrest at a filling station, when he was found viewing pornographic material on his telephone, and this led to his interrogation.
The control prosecutor said Karner, accused of trafficking in persons, offered the biological parents N$2 500 for each of the minor girls that he stands accused of having sexually exploited and for having performed immoral acts with them.
Karner made his first appearance in court at Outapi in the Omusati region last week and the presiding magistrate, Eden Amutenya, postponed his case to Wednesday this week for bail application.
Karner arrived in Namibia through Oranjemund in the //Kharas region on 10 March this year as a tourist. He then proceeded to Kamanjab and Opuwo in Kunene region, where he allegedly received two minor girls, aged 14 and 15, from their biological parents, allegedly for sexual exploitation.
Martha Hasheela, a control prosecutor at Outapi Magistrate’s Court in Omusati region, explained that poverty led some Himba parents to exchange their minor girls for cash because of the economic hardships brought about by drought.
“He paid N$2 500 for each girl in order to “travel” with them. What we have discovered mostly in this type of cases is that these people, because of lack of sufficient support from government, poverty and unemployment, are pushed to survive on tourists, who pay them small amounts of money in order to take pictures of them,” she explained.
She said the money generated is being used to buy food.
“The reality of the marginalised people in Kunene and Omusati regions, such as Himba, Dhemba, Aatjimba and Ngambwe, is they don’t even go to school and they too survive on this practice. It is because of this vulnerability and desperation that they end up being exploited by some of these tourists,” she emphasised.
She suggested that to minimise and prevent such cases from occurring, government needs to support these marginalised communities. Furthermore, the prosecutor said there is no possibility of the parents being prosecuted in the matter.
Warrant Officer Anna Kunga narrated police officers reportedly spotted the accused person at a filling station and decided to question him. She said, during interrogation, his mobile phone and a camera in his possession were taken after pornographic content involving the two minors was found.
Karner is accused of contravening Section 3 (2) of Combating of Trafficking in person, Act 1 of 2018. Alternatively, the contravention of Section 14 of Combating of Immoral Practice, Act 21 of 1980 as amended in Act 7 of 2000.