5 March 2018

South Africa: Minister Susan Shabangu Welcomes Decision to Repatriate Children to Zimbabwe

press release

After three months of waiting, eight children who were found by the South African Police Service (SAPS) in Rustenburg in November 2017, will be repatriated from South Africa to Zimbabwe.

The children, between the ages of two and 14 years, are currently in the care and protection of the Department of Social Development. The driver of the truck they were travelling in was in possession of 15 passports - none of which belonged to the minors in transit.

In February, an application for a court interdict was applied for at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria by eight adults who claimed to be the parents of the children.

The alleged parents demanded that the children be released into their care but could not provide proof that they are indeed the children's parents or primary caregivers.

In terms of section 290 of the Children's Act, there is a need to ascertain where the children will be released to. In this instance, the children will be released to the care and safety of the Government of Zimbabwe.

In a scathing finding, Judge Bill Prinsloo, concluded that the children should be repatriated. He said he could not fathom how parents could allow their children to travel with strangers, in a truck, from Beit Bridge to the Cape and said that he doubted that the parents acted in the best interest of the children.

The newly-appointed Minister of Social Development, Ms Susan Shabangu, said; "We welcome the decision to repatriate the children to Zimbabwe. We believe that the South African Government, through the Department of Social Development, always acts in the best interest of the child. We want to thank the SAPS, the social workers, the office of the Family Advocate and all other officials who worked tirelessly to make sure that the children are protected."

The Government of Zimbabwe is expected to receive the children back tomorrow, 06 March.

Issued by: Department of Social Development

South Africa

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