The late April edition of The Big Issue is a heavy-hitter, carrying not one, but two large exposés.
The first is an in-depth look into human trafficking to supply South Africa’s sex trade. The report carries a first-hand account of a child survivor of human trafficking, along with a snapshot of the global battle to fight the illegal trade in humans and South Africa’s progress in that battle — or the lack thereof. It also includes a report on how the ANC Women’s League’s call to decriminalise prostitution could, according to advocacy groups, lead to a clampdown on human traffickers.
“Human trafficking is by no means a new topic. But we felt it was crucial to highlight this issue, as it has now become the fastest growing criminal industry in the world and all indications point to trafficking in South Africa growing at an alarming rate,” said Melany Bendix, editor.
The second exposé is close-to-home for practically every South African: exploitation of domestic workers.
Unions, backed by accounts of domestic workers earning as little as R20 a day, claim that labour brokers are largely to blame for creating what they’ve labelled a “modern-day slave trade”.
“Domestic workers are not the only ones reporting exploitation by unscrupulous labour brokers,” notes Bendix. “But we chose to focus on this sector of the work force as they are largely overlooked, under-represented and not given a voice.”
On a much lighter note, the cover star for this edition is “Fish Hoek’s greatest export”, radio station 5fm’s Roger Goode. The Big Issue sent its entertainment reporter on a downhill biking adventure on Table Mountain for this interview. In-between hanging on to the handlebars, he brought back the skinny on the top DJ who’s quickly moving up 5fm’s rankings with a new prime time slot.
Goode, a long time supporter of The Big Issue, said being chosen to feature on the cover of the magazine was an unexpected honour. “I love reading The Big Issue and, most of all, I love the social empowerment contribution that it makes,” he said.
The Agent of Change for this issue is Phillip Boyd, a former Capab principal dancer. Following his dream to enable children from all backgrounds to experience the magic of dance in their childhoods like he did, Boyd decided to change the status quo. He was told he couldn’t do it; that “black people are not meant to become dancers”. He didn’t listen. Together with his wife — the late Phyllis Spira, South Africa’s most renowned prima ballerina — he founded Dance for All in 1991. From humble beginnings in Gugulethu, the non-profit dance academy has gone on to become an international success and has changed the lives of thousands of young people.
News, views and reviews
As always, The Big Issue carries a range of local news, starting with how we could unwittingly be eating food containing genetically modified organisms (GMO). This, according to the African Centre for Biosafety, is because government is not monitoring the implementation of its new food labelling regulations and failing to enforce penalties for those not complying.
In other news, government is set to put the squeeze on formula milk companies with new regulations that clamp down on “aggressive” marketing tactics used to persuade mothers to give up breastfeeding. Another report on gangsterism in Khayelitsha shows how girls are aligning themselves to their boyfriends’ gangs and becoming increasingly violent, with a number of girl gang stabbings reported over recent weeks.
Readers can also find out what’s happening in the art and theatre world around Cape Town, get the latest music and book reviews and be entertained by The Big Issue’s fresh, witty opinionistas.
“That’s only a small taste of what’s on offer in the latest edition,” said Bendix. “Vendors are out in force and ready to make a sale. Don’t miss out.”