Nopinky Mafusini, Survivor of Human Trafficking (Part 1)

Today, we have the privilege of speaking to Nopinky, a survivor of human trafficking. While we will not be discussing Nopinky’s personal story of trafficking, we will be hearing from her about her life before trafficking. Our goal is to gain insight into some of the factors that can make individuals vulnerable to modern day slavery. We hope that by learning about these factors, we can raise awareness and promote prevention efforts. Thank you for joining us on this important conversation.

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Nopinky interview – Part 1

Hello friends and colleagues, Welcome to our Free To Fly podcasts. Free To Fly is a faith-based organization working against Human Trafficking.
We are very excited to present to you one of our episodes, brought by our host Natalie Ruiters, where we will speak about topics around Human Trafficking.

Today, we have the privilege of speaking to Nopinky, a survivor of human trafficking.

While we won’t be discussing Nopinky’s personal story of trafficking, we will be hearing from her about her life before trafficking. Our goal is to gain insight into some of the factors that can make individuals vulnerable to modern day slavery. We hope that by learning about these factors, we can raise awareness and promote prevention efforts. Thank you for joining us on this important conversation.


NR: Good morning. I am Natalie Ruiters and I am from Free to Fly. I will be your host today as we do another recording of one of our podcasts highlighting the plight of human trafficking around South Africa. Today our guest is Nopinky Mafusini and she is a survivor of human trafficking. She has graciously agreed to share her story with us so we can understand the effect of human trafficking, the devastation of human trafficking and how she has survived the ordeal of human trafficking. So welcome Nopinky.


NM: Thank you so much Natalie. It’s so wonderful for me to be here to just share where God has saved me from. And to bring light to human trafficking so that others can have hope. When you are in that position you lose hope and don’t know your worth. All these things God has restored for me. I hope that someone will be touched by my story, and we give all the glory to God.


NR: Nopinky, this is not the first time I have spoken to you. This is probably the third or fourth time I have spoken to you – I must be honest, that when you have shared your story with me, I was deeply touched.  It just reminded me that God is alive and is constantly working and I’m sure your story will bless many many others today.

Nopinky, it would be wise to maybe share with me a bit of your background: I know when you shared with me, came from a very dysfunctional family were your mom and dad were not present and, I know you shared, you stayed with your grandmother who was looking after 4 grandchildren. You grew up in a place of poverty and because of that you felt responsible to help your grandmother to provide for the household. So can you share a bit of where you came from and how you ended up living with your grandmother.


NM: So, my mother lived with my grandmother and so we were all staying in the same house and life nice and beautiful although we didn’t have a lot of things, but it was beautiful because we were a family together. Until it came to the point that my mother abandoned me to my grandmother’s care. She left me without a word – and that affected me a lot because she and my father did not have a good relationship as well. So, for her to leave me like that just broke me at that age. I blamed myself and thought I was a child who was not accepted, – that I am a mistake. I let the situation, of my mother, slide because life goes on, life must move on and I must focus on other things. Living in this house was a poverty-stricken life. But my grandmother, may her soul rest in peace, tried her best to be a mother, to be a father to us, and to be a grandmother to us. So, although our mothers left us with scars, but she was there for us. That’s why I felt like one day I want to be successful and help my grandmother so that one day she can have joy in her heart. Little did I know that I was following a wrong path.   

I was very passionate about sport and to become Miss South Africa – or Miss Universe and be able to end the poverty in my home. The agency of modelling agency, NM: That’s when I, like I was challenged little bit because why, I didn’t have all the resources to become who I want to be. Because it requires dresses, beauty all those kinds of things. And I didn’t have, I didn’t afford to have those kinds of things. So the reason that I was saying at the beginning that I fall in the wrong direction I end up shoplifting so that I can get my own dress, my own make up because I was tired of embarrassment I go to the neighbours and ask every time “please can you borrow me shoes, can you borrow me dress, can you borrow me, can you make up me” then they’ll make fun of me. So it pushed me to the point that I do the shoplifting. Then I end up caught by the police and then I was hold by the police station. Because I remember it was weekend, me and my friend so then they keep us it was Friday, Saturday, Sunday. They released us on Monday because they make all the researches where our home base, like what kinds of homes that we were coming from. So then my grandmother come rescue and I think it broke her heart for her to see me in that position because she was looking up on me.


NR: So, when your grandmother came to rescue you – and bail you out of the cells – and you felt guilty, and upset with yourself that you’d hurt her. Did you have a conversation with your grandmother to explain why you did what you did?


NM: She didn’t give me a chance to explain we didn’t have the kind of relationship where these things were discussed. That was another thing in my life – I didn’t have that kind of relationship with my family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             NR: I think I grew up in that era as well, where we didn’t feel comfortable or we weren’t given the space to share things with our families and that left a lot of unsaid things on both sides. Because I feel like and I think with studies and having grown up in a different way and educating myself in a different knowledge now I understand, we understand that if you can have those conversations, it can change the course anyone’s life. And then the other thing is

How old were you more or less when this happened – when you were arrested?


NM: I think I was in the age of, if I am not mistaken, 13. Because the age that they can keep you in the cell Its starts at 13 years old. I’m just assuming I was in that age. Because there’s no way that I would remember everything


NR: At thirteen you were very naive and very young. I can imagine you were scared in the cells. What did you feel?


NM: Oh, – you don’t want to know. I was crying the whole weekend. It’ s not a nice place to be because you see other people they doing other things, and you’re in this dark place and then you think that your life is ending here. The only thing that I can remember that, I can’t remember anything that I was thinking about – but I was crying if I can put it that way


NR: What did you experience, did you experience anything like, what was the cells like besides what you were feeling


NM: They bully you, they show off, the ones that normally come in and out in the cells – they make sure that you mustn’t come back in this place. Because for them it’ s their home so if you are crying like that way they see the opportunity to take advantage of you.


NR: Nopinky, when you say take advantage of you – I know you shared with me about the officer who tried taking your fingerprints, you and your friend, do you feel comfortable sharing that part with us?


NM: Okay, they just bully you around, they will tell you mustn’t sleep to the certain area – you must sleep wherever that – when they are comfortable and then you will find a place afterwards if I can put it that way. So you must make sure that those ones that are like bullies they are comfortable and then after that you a person who is a crying baby, you will wait until the stronger ones


NR: sorry I lost you there Nopinky. Okay you are back


NP: That is the kind of bullying that they were doing and try to make you uncomfortable but nothing more than that. So, while we were in the cell the police come and collect us inside the cell. We make this queue and then, so while I was in the queue – in the room – the police that was taking the fingerprints, my fingerprints, said to me ‘why are you here?’


and I said told him what I did.


He said ‘you know that I can take you out of this place?’


I said to him ‘please that would be nice’


He said ‘but in one condition’


I said ‘what is that one condition’


So he said that ‘if you can sleep with me.’ So he started to brush my thighs and then I jump and then I said ‘ I am not comfortable around you’ and then

he said ‘if you are not comfortable then you are gonna be rotten in the cell’


I say ‘its fine. Just take my fingerprints and then I will see myself. If I’m about to stay here longer its fine but the way that you are telling me to give you my body I’m not gonna do that’ and while I was out of that room I heard my friend as well. The police, that same police was trying to do something to my friend as well.


NR: Nopinky that is, I’m so sorry that you had to experience that and that is quite horrific and really sad that the very people that are meant to be looking after, are some of the people that hurt us even further. You were 13 years old – that would be considered been rape and assault. That’ s really sad, I’m really sorry that you had to go through that at that age. So when you explained to him that you where not comfortable- did he let you go back into the cell or he said you were going to rot in the cells/prison?


NP: Yes, he was saying that I’m gonna like, kind of like scare me


NR: Intimidate you.


NP: Yes. He say that ‘do you know that you are going to be in the cell. Where other girls are gonna do something that is horrible in your body so rather for you to obey what I’m saying, so I can take you out of this place.’

I say, ‘no rather to do that, I will never do that’


NR: That was very brave of you – at that time, at 13 to be prepared to face something else that was unknown to you. To try and protect yourself and I think at 13 to try to fend yourself off from an official, someone we look up to who was supposed to be protecting you could have been quite a daunting thing at that time. It was very brave of you to choose the unknown ‘other’.

So, then your granny came to bail you out, to take you out of prison.


NM: There was no bail.


NR: Okay. So, then you went back home


NM: Yes, I went back home -life goes on. I tried to follow my dreams but had to do some other things in life.  




Dear friends and key stakeholders, thank you for joining us on today’s podcast. Our aim and heart for these podcasts is to raise awareness about human trafficking and to highlight the atrocity that this crime is to humanity. A reminder that human trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar industry, which sadly is the fastest growing worldwide and second biggest crime after drugs. It is far more organized than many care to believe.

We invite you to join hands in fighting against human trafficking, follow us on our social media pages: on Instagram and on Facebook, /FreeToFlyZa. Do check out our website,, to sign up to be a volunteer or donate towards so we can continue our efforts to raise awareness and assist those who have been affected through trafficking.

For those of you who do not know, Free To Fly is an organization that is currently starting up one of the first safe houses in South Africa for children who have been rescued from human trafficking. Our heart is to run a holistic, trauma-informed, survivor informed programme that will facilitate this journey of healing. Please follow our journey on our website.

Till next time, take care and be sure to share and listen out for the next podcast. Thanks, friends!


Free to Fly can’t be held liable about the content of our podcast guests.