Africa-Press – Zimbabwe. The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare in Zimbabwe has addressed reports about 443 unaccompanied Zimbabwean children below the age of 8 being intercepted in South Africa on suspicion of child trafficking and handed over to Zimbabwean authorities.
In a statement seen by Pindula News, the Ministry clarifies that it has not received official confirmation on the alleged number of children. However, between November 25 and December 3, a total of 124 children were intercepted and handed over to the Department of Immigration at Beitbridge Border Post. Efforts are underway to reunite the remaining 23 children with their families. The Ministry is also conducting awareness programs to promote responsible parenting and safe migration. Read the statement:
The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare is the lead agency in the care and protection of children in Zimbabwe. The Children’s Act (Chapter 5:06) as amended identifies unaccompanied and separated migrant children as children in need or care and protection.
The Ministry is concerned with information released by the South African Border Management Authority on the 3rd of December 2023 alleging that 443 unaccompanied Zimbabwean children below the age of 8 years were intercepted in South Africa on fears of child trafficking and were handed over to Zimbabwe Authorities.
To the contrary, the two (2) Border Authorities on both the Zimbabwean and South African side have not received any official communication or confirmation on the alleged 443 children as reported in some publications.
The Ministry would like to advise the nation that during the period 25 November 2023 to 3 December 2023, received a total of 124 children (71 males and 53 females) who were intercepted and handed over to the Department of Immigration at Beitbridge Border Post.
Upon Identification, the children were moved to a place of safety at Beitbridge Reception Centre awaiting relatives/family tracing and reunification. To date 101 children have since been reunified with their relatives/families and efforts are underway to reunify the remaining 23 children currently placed at the Reception Centre.
The majority of identified children are from Bulawayo Metropolitan Province and Matabeleland South province. These children were mainly intercepted attempting to cross the border without the requisite travelling documents. Others were travelling without an accompanying parent or guardian. The Ministry is working with the Zimbabwe Republic Police to find out perpetrators of this heinous offence.
As a preventative measure, the Ministry is conducting nationwide awareness raising programs, particularly in these migrant sending communities, to sensitise citizens on responsible parenting and safe migration.