JOHANNESBURG — Border officers in South Africa say they’ve intercepted dozens of buses carrying greater than 400 younger youngsters from Zimbabwe with out mother and father or authorized guardians in an anti-trafficking operation.
The officers say the youngsters had been being “trafficked” into South Africa, though a corporation representing international nationals dwelling in South Africa says it is probably the youngsters had been being despatched to go to their mother and father, who’re working in South Africa, for the tip of 12 months holidays. The buses had been despatched again to Zimbabwe.
Greater than 1 million Zimbabweans reside in South Africa, a lot of them illegally, having moved to their southern neighbor over the previous 15 years to flee Zimbabwe’s financial turmoil.
South African Border Administration Company commissioner Mike Masiapato mentioned Sunday that South African police stopped and searched 42 buses getting into from Zimbabwe on Saturday evening and located 443 youngsters beneath the age of 8 touring unaccompanied.
“We denied them entry and activated the Zimbabwean officers to course of them again into Zimbabwe,” Masiapato mentioned.
The buses had been allowed via on the Zimbabwean aspect of the Beitbridge border submit, South African border officers mentioned.
Ngqabutho Mabhena, chairperson of the Africa Diaspora Discussion board, which represents international nationals dwelling in South Africa, mentioned his group believed the buses had been carrying Zimbabwean youngsters coming to South Africa to go to their mother and father, which is an everyday phenomenon close to the tip of the 12 months. He mentioned it’s common that youngsters are despatched over the border with out correct documentation permitting them to journey as unaccompanied minors.
“We at all times inform Zimbabwean mother and father dwelling in South Africa that in the event that they prepare for his or her youngsters to return to South Africa, they need to … prepare all needed documentation,” Mabhena mentioned. “It’s irresponsible for fogeys to let youngsters journey with out passports and to journey with strangers. We have now addressed this with mother and father.”
Round 178,000 Zimbabweans reside and work in South Africa legally beneath an exemption allow, however a 2022 South African census mentioned there have been greater than one million Zimbabweans within the nation. Some estimates say there could also be as many as 3 million.
South Africa, which is Africa’s most superior financial system, launched a brand new border pressure in October to clamp down on unlawful immigration from Zimbabwe and different nations.
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