Human trafficking in the spotlight as ‘I am all Girls’ and SA film industry get global recognition

A South African movie released on Netflix, ‘I am all Girls’ has received worldwide attention, being described as a “must-watch” for the acting and important storyline. The thriller tells the story of a detective who finds common ground with an unlikely ally – a killer who is systematically targeting perpetrators behind a powerful child-trafficking ring. It is based on a true South African story. One of the main characters, a detective called Ntombizonke, is played by Hlube Mboya-Arnold. Mboya-Arnold told BizNews that it was a difficult role to play, but as human trafficking is a crime with a very low conviction rate, she thought it was a story that had to be told. The film also highlights the quality of the South African film industry. – Linda van Tilburg

Hlube Mboya-Turner on acting:

If you know my work I don’t usually do things that are mainstream. That’s why I do what I do. I found myself in my art to be able to create awareness and to talk about things that are not talked about. I think that’s a gift – and I embrace it holistically. I’m 43-years old and the older I get, the more I’m appreciating that my work may not be viewed by people consistently because I’m not always out there – but when I do what I love, it’s well-received and it leaves something behind. I’m grateful for that.

I always say in interviews that I made it a purpose in my life – very early-on in my career – to use media for good and not to be used by it. That’s my trump card – that’s what I want to be known for. I really do value my input. As Madonna says, “artists are here to disrupt the peace.”

On the difficulty of playing Ntombizonke:

It was excruciatingly hard. I had a great production team. I had great executive producers. I had an extraordinary director. They were very supportive because it’s a hard subject matter. We did a lot of research – you have to on this subject. Obviously, it’s fictional, but it’s based on a true story of two girls, their families and experiences. My character, Ntombizonke, I specifically wanted to base on a real South African woman – and it is that 1% that was found or that 1% of the stats that escapes from human trafficking and sex trafficking.

Her name is Griselda Grootboom and she is a survivor. She’s a woman’s advocate, feminist and author. Her book, which I read in preparation for this role, is called ‘Exit’, and it tells of her traumatic and harrowing journey of being a prostitute, falling into human trafficking and being that 1% that escapes it.

On ‘I am all Girls’ raising awareness against human trafficking:

Absolutely. it was not by mistake that this was shot in South Africa. Covid has revealed so much of these social injustices – and human trafficking is one of them. Because SA is a destination, transit and export point, we shot in Durban. The harbour is very much a centre of attention and plight because that’s where they get imported and exported, as you saw in the movie. Cape Town too, having harbours and ports. Human trafficking is rife in South Africa. This movie just unveiled what is going on right beneath our noses, what is going on right next door.

Because covid has left so many people in South Africa unemployed, that just catapults it to another degree and to another level, which is terrifying. We are the rape capital of the world. Johannesburg, South Africa was the rape capital of the world. During lockdown, the abused and the abusers are constrained to in one household. The movie being released and showcased at this point in time is not a coincidence.

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