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Marcel van der Watt

Lecturer in Police Practice | Investigator, University of South Africa

Marcel van der Watt (PhD) is a lecturer and researcher at the Department of Police Practice, University of South Africa (UNISA). He was a member of the South African Police Service for 10 years where he worked as hostage/suicide negotiator and investigator attached to the Hawks (DPCI) as well as the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit. Marcel gained international recognition for his work in counter-human trafficking and received numerous awards and commendations for the investigation of crime. These include awards from the National Police Commissioner, Rotary International, ADT Security and a nomination as a finalist in the Police Star of the Year competition. For his contribution in the field of counter-human trafficking Marcel received an unreserved endorsement from E. Benjamin Skinner, fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School CARR CENTER for Human Rights Policy (Massachusetts, USA) and author of ‘A Crime So Monstrous’. Marcel was also awarded a position in the YPIA Top 35 under 35 Africans for 2014.

He provides assistance in on-going investigations and intelligence-gathering activities and also participates on provincial and national human trafficking task teams in South Africa. His roles include that of Research Director for the Global Resources Epicentre against Human Trafficking (GREAT), a Canadian based NPO, Case Manager for the National Freedom Network (NFN) and expert witness on issues related to control methods, modus operandi and sentencing considerations in human trafficking cases. Marcel contributes to television, radio and print media on issues related to policing, human trafficking, organised crime, hostage taking and violence against women and children and has published and presented his work on local and international platforms. He serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Modern Slavery and is a council member for policing on the South African Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (SAPSAC).


  • –present
    Lecturer in Police Practice, University of South Africa