Traffickers lure people in spite of huge unemployment in South Africa.
About 130 Bangladeshis are killed on an average every year in South Africa mostly due to conflict among compatriots as well as conflict with local South Africans.
Scores of Bangladeshis, who have gone there for making fortune as promised by human traffickers, engage in crimes amidst widespread unemployment in South Africa.
‘People from Bangladesh are going to South Africa through different routes although there is no job in the country,’ foreign ministry secretary (bilateral and consular affairs) Kamrul Ahsan told New Age on Thursday.
In a latest incident, Joinal Abedin of Tangail, who was killed in South Africa, was brought dead home Sunday night and buried at a local graveyard on Monday.
Joinal was shot dead on May 8 when robbers attacked his grocery shop in New Castle of South Africa, reported New Age correspondent in Tangail referring to the family.
Joinal went to South Africa in 2010, said his brother Alam.
There are over two lakh Bangladeshis in South Africa, most of whom went there through trafficking channels for seeking job. Most of them are doing business, mainly run grocery shops, getting political asylum or refugee status taking advantage of the lenient migration policy of South Africa, foreign ministry officials said.
Human traffickers in most of the cases use tourist visa and visa-on-arrival facilities to transfer the victims for evading compliance of provisions meant for migrant workers enforced by expatriates welfare and overseas employment authorities, they said.
Statistics of past several years showed that on an average about 130 Bangladeshis were murdered in South Africa every year, official in the foreign ministry and at the Bangladesh mission in South Africa said.
Conflict with the local South Africans is a major reason for the murder of many Bangladeshis as they get involved in affairs with the wives, girl friends and female members of the South Africans families infuriating the locals, said several Bangladeshis living in Johannesburg and Durban.
Apart from marriages of convenience, sometimes Bangladeshis get married to local women using false unmarried certificates and suddenly come back to Bangladesh leaving behind the helpless wife and children, they said, adding that the local people got furious and sometimes they tried to take revenge on other Bangladeshis.
A sense of hatred has grown among the local South African people as some Bangladeshi businessmen sell food items after the expiry dates, they said.
Allegations have it that some Bangladeshi shopkeepers buy stolen goods from the local people, sell them for cash evading tax and remit money through informal means avoiding banking channel.
Most of the Bangladeshis have conflicts with compatriots over multifarious issues that eventually end up in murders, by hired killers, mostly local South Africans, they said, adding that such conflicts were on the rise.
Abduction of Bangladeshi businesspersons by compatriots for ransom is a major reason for creating tension among the Bangladeshis. The aggrieved businessman then seeks to take a revenge on the perpetrator and even kills him. The number of abduction cases has significantly increased during past few years.
In some cases, Bangladeshi new comers get job as an assistant or shopkeeper in shops owned by other Bangladeshis. In course of time, they get to know about the owners, especially where they keep their cash box or when they remain outside the shop or house, and either steal the cashbox or get those stolen in with the connivance of local South Africans, said the Bangladeshis in South Africa.
Sometimes, local South Africans also charge Bangladeshi businessmen with firearm and rob them, they said.
Some Bangladeshis are also killed for conflicts with other Bangladeshis over professional rivalries such as setting up shop very near to another and for declining to return borrowed money.
Such activities by sections of Bangladeshis are not only tarnishing the image of the country, but also creating hatred among the South African people, a foreign ministry official in Dhaka said.
Many murder incidents remain unnoticed for an indefinite period as friends and acquaintances of the victims do not even inform either the Bangladesh High Commission or the local police, foreign ministry officials said, adding that in many cases the Bangladeshis did not want the police to visit their place.
While talking to New Age in Pretoria in April, several Bangladeshis, however, denied involvement of fellow citizens in murders in South Africa claiming that foreigners were killed in South Africa due to xenophobic violence.
South African foreign ministry officials claimed that xenophobic violence rarely occurred when shops were ransacked, but only in few cases there were reports of any fatality.
They said that some of the criminals enjoyed impunity because of lack of proper law and order. The local police are often managed by bribes by the perpetrators.
In most of the cases, the victims are scared to go to the police because they think that even if the criminal is arrested, he might manage to get out of the custody and then attack the victim with more severe atrocities or even murder, they said.
Most of the Bangladeshis land up in South Africa paying about $12,000 per person with the assistance of human traffickers and their agents comprising Bangladeshis and South Africans.
Many Bangladeshis encounter a massive shock when they land up in South Africa as they see that there is no proper job and that living an honest life is impossible. Eventually some of the new comers become a part of the wrong doers.
Few countries like Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia have a big number of asylum seekers in South Africa and many of them also engage in crimes, the South African foreign ministry officials.