Over the last few years, a rather disturbing and unnerving issue has come into the spotlight in South Africa. Gender based violence and crimes of a sexual nature have begun to rapidly occupy media outlets, leading to somewhat of a revolution pushing toward gender equality.
A theme that closely shoulders gender based violence is that of human trafficking, the dark and often forgotten about truth that haunts the lives of those that have been taken from their homes, and those who have been left behind to search for their loved ones.
Human trafficking is especially rife in Africa, with plenty of women and children being traficked every single day for different reasons. Chief among these reasons is to supply tycoons with forced labour. In most cases, it is children that are taken to be used for this forced labour.
Another more shocking and heinous reason for the trafficking of women in particular is to supply nameless individuals who are often undetectable with sexual companions. This what Netflix’s new South African crime drama “I Am All Girls” put its focus on.
The South African film industry has been in the spotlight recently, as South African documentary My Octopus Teacher, which received the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars, also made waves on Netflix. Betting sites in the South Africa will be kicking themselves for not releasing odds on that category of the academy awards.
I am All Girls however, directed by Donovan Marsh (Avenged and Hunter Killer) follows the acts of vengeance carried out by forensic specialist Ntombizonke Bapai (played by Hlubi Mboya, Isidingo and Dora’s Peace) as she hunts down and murders perpetrators of human traficking in Apartheid South Africa. What makes the storyline that much more compelling is the fact that Bapai was a survivor of the human trafficking syndicate that she has aimed her revenge at.
What makes the mystery thriller so interesting is the fact that the plot is intertwined not only with a problem in Africa as a continent, but furthermore due to the fact that it is a servant of law enforcement that is carrying a type of vigilante justice on a number of guilty parties.
Bapai is romantically involved with lead investigator Jodie Snyman (played by Erica Wessles, The Harvesters, Hatchet Hour) who has a long history of working against human trafficking. It is clear that Snyman is heavily invested in the case, which is used against her by Bapai, as she continues on her path of exacting revenge.
The plot takes Snyman across South Africa as the case thickens, and her investment in the murders of the guilty parties sees her compromise the case, which later leads to the release of a guilty trafficker. Bapai takes it on herself to bring justice to the guilty party.
The main target in Bapai’s quest for justice is FJ Nolte, an old National Party cabinet minister played by Deon Lotz (Long Walk to Freedom and Beauty (Skoonheid)) who was responsible for trafficking young girls to the middle east. When Bapai and Nolte confront each other, Bapai is shot and killed, and her identity becomes known to Snyman, who later takes up the mantle, and exacts revenge on the guilty Nolte.
While a fictional production that does not draw its content from true events, the film is no less poignant in its message, human trafficking is a serious issue in South Africa, and the continent of Africa as a whole, with thousands of women and children losing their freedoms everyday.