Beitbridge — The 33-year-old Bulawayo man who was arrested for attempting to smuggle 16 children aged between three and 17 into South Africa through the Beitbridge border post on Saturday was yesterday imprisoned for eight months.
The children had been collected from various suburbs in Bulawayo and were being taken to South Africa where their parents stay.
Never Tshuma of House 710 Emakhandeni, Bulawayo denied contravening a section of the Immigration Act (Assisting Border Jumpers), but magistrate Mr Innocent Bepura convicted him on the strength of evidence provided.
Tshuma was left with eight months effective to serve after Mr Bepura conditionally suspended four months for five years.
Prosecutor Mr Jabulani Mberesi told the court that on Saturday morning, Tshuma, who was in the company of his friend only identified as Danny who is still at large, left Bulawayo driving a South African registered Toyota Quantum enroute to Gauteng Province in that country.
They were ferrying illegal immigrants, among them adults and 16 children.Tshuma and Danny then assisted the children to evade the immigration formalities on the Zimbabwean side and proceeded to South Africa.
Upon getting to the South African border, they ordered the children and other passengers to disembark from the vehicle, while they worked a plan to gain passage into that country.
At around 7pm, the undocumented children were spotted by an alert immigration officer who requested to see their travel documents.
It was then established that Tshuma and Danny were facilitating their movement. Danny managed to flee with the vehicle before the immigration officers could interview him.
The undocumented children and Tshuma were taken to the Zimbabwe immigration authorities where Tshuma was subsequently arrested. The children were then taken to the Department of Social Welfare for further assistance.