Southern Africa: SA Rescues Over 400 Zimbabwe Children From Child Trafficking

Border Management Authority (BMA) Commissioner Michael Masiapato.
4 December 2023

The reality of child trafficking between South Africa and its neighbouring countries became apparent when local authorities rescued 443 children being transported without parents.

The kids - all under eight years - were from Zimbabwe and have been handed over to the Zimbabwean authorities.

South Africa's newly launched Border Management Authority (BMA) said it was not clear how the children passed through undetected from the Zimbabwe side.

BMA Commissioner Michael Masiapato said: "They were able to stop and search about 42 buses trying to enter the republic and found about 443 children under the age of eight in those buses without any parents or guardians. Cleary, they were being trafficked into South Africa."

By law, the children cannot be interrogated by authorities to ascertain where they came from or to find out the identity of their parents.

Authorities have to find less intrusive and traumatic means to get the information as the children are always trafficked against their will.

It is believed a child trafficking ring exists between the two countries which takes children under the age of 10 for grooming in the illegal sex industry.

"We were able to get them out of those buses. We were then able to engage with the Zimbabwean officials and handed them back to Zimbabwe for processing back into the country," said Masiapato.

During a media briefing on Sunday the BMA said they have also intercepted more than 44, 000 people trying to enter the country illegally at various borders.

"About 100,452 individuals overstayed in the country. We got the hit from our movement control system when they arrived at the ports. We then declared them undesirable, and we banned them from entering South Africa for the next five years."

At least 279 vehicles being taken out of South Africa illegally have been impounded.

The BMA said it was expecting over six million people to go through the country's borders during the festive season.

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