Two young university students wanted to do something meaningful with their December holiday. So, they reached out to Dave*, a man they both knew and trusted and who was actively involved in their local church. Dave immediately said they should go on a short-term international mission trip, and put them in contact with Anton*, a pastor in South Africa. Anton eagerly messaged them and offered to pay for their flights for them to come and volunteer with him in South Africa for 3 weeks.
The girls were excited and packed their bags. Once arriving in South Africa, immigration and the LJSA had a few questions for them. After the interview- the team suspected that there was something wrong with the girl’s story. They spoke to Anton, who said they were indeed coming to volunteer at his church- but could not tell the team why he was willing to pay for their flights for such a short trip.
There was one more piece of the puzzle that the team needed to make sense of all of this- and that piece lay with Thabo*. Thabo was sent to fetch the girls from the airport, so he was called in to an interview. After speaking to Thabo, it was discovered that he was instructed to fetch the girls and take them over the border to a neighbouring country, where they would be working at a “church” for 10 months.
When asked about this, the girls where shocked. They had only agreed to 3 weeks and had no intentions of leaving South Africa. The girls were sent safely home, and Anton’s information was handed over to the police for further investigation.
*Not the real names