An increasing number of people are being smuggled into South Africa from Zimbabwe, according to a new report released on Monday (22 August), following "hundreds" of illegal entrants crossing between the two countries every day.

The report, by the Democratic Alliance party, suggests that South Africa is a major player in human trafficking. Children as young as nine-years-old are prostituted are lured into the country with the promise of a better life and employment, according to South African website Health24.

The report details how many of the people who become victims of smuggling are attempting to escape Robert Mugabe's oppressive regime, which ignored warnings by the United Nations World Food Programme that nearly 3 million of Zimbabwe 's 11 million people could starve to death.

Many cross in to South Africa to buy household goods, fruit, vegetables and other commodities because of the economic crisis in Zimbabwe. The regime has recently seen new laws introduced in recent weeks which allow the government to seize mobile phones and laptops and listen in on private communications.

Women who entered South Africa illegally were brought to Johannesburg by smugglers for a fee of 1,500 Rand (£84), according to Sky News.

Once they have arrived, they are held in shacks by the traffickers until more money is handed over by relatives. They are raped and beaten if the cash is not forthcoming. One woman says she was held for three weeks and passed round as a prostitute until another Zimbabwean, "bought" her.

She is now living in his shack as his "wife", adding: "He brings me food every day and looks after me and he's always looking for a job for me. I think one day I can learn to love him" the woman told Sky News.

The tradition of ukuthwala, the enforced marriage of girls as young as 12 to men much older, is still practiced in remote villages in Eastern and Western Cape provinces, leaving girls as targets for sex slavery.