(AGI) Cape Town, Sept 23 - South Africa has partnered with the European Union and the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime to halt trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants, South Africa's Home Affairs (Immigration) Minister Malusi Gigaba announced. Spearheaded by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the project aims to strengthen the criminal justice response to trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants in 13 strategically selected countries across the globe. In addition to providing assistance to governmental authorities, the project will also benefit civil society organisations as well as victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants. Speaking at the launch of the global action to prevent the scourge at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria yesterday, Gigaba said human trafficking and smuggling of migrants too often led to injury, death, exploitation, sexual abuse, forced marriage and even slavery. He said in addition to the immense human cost, these crimes undermined the country's legal and social fabric. "They undermine and evade our law enforcement, criminal justice, immigration systems and social welfare systems," he said. The minister also reflected on reasons why traffickers take advantage of vulnerable individuals, especially women and children. He said heartless transnational criminal elements sought to profit from people's need for employment, safety and a better life, especially among women and children. They also pounced on vulnerable people, by exploiting weak legal frameworks and under-resourced immigration and criminal justice systems in some countries, he said.(AGI) .