Zimbabwe denies trafficking of over 400 minors at Beitbridge Border Post

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The Zimbabwean government on Tuesday denied reports that over 400 children under eight years were intercepted on the South African side of the Beitbridge Border Post aboard 42 buses by authorities from that country.

A commissioner with the SA Border Management Authority (BMA) Dr Michael Masiapato was earlier this week quoted saying they had blocked the attempted trafficking of 443 children under the age of eight destined for the neighbouring country from Zimbabwe over the past few days.

Masiapato claimed that the children were removed from 42 buses destined for SA during a sting operation at the Musina Border Post across the Limpopo River as they were being trafficked into that country.

After taking the children out of the buses, Masiapato said the BMA engaged Zimbabwean officials and handed the children for processing back into the country.

In a press statement at the end of the weekly post cabinet media briefing, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister, Kazembe Kazembe expressed concern at the reports emanating from the neighbouring country’s officials including his counterpart, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.

“We wish to categorically state that no such incident occurred. If at all there was a case of human trafficking of minors, the buses, the drivers and the crew would now have been arrested facing human trafficking charges as guided by the trafficking in persons’ legislation common to both jurisdictions in line with our regional and international obligations,” said Kazembe.

“To date, Beitbridge Border Post has no record whatsoever of any 42 buses denied entry into SA or 443 minors intercepted or handed over to the Zimbabwe authorities. If there is any information to the contrary, we hope to be advised through the well established communication channels established between the two countries.”

Kazembe said the Zimbabwean authorities were however aware that Zimbabwean parents resident in SA, especially on Zimbabwe Exemption Permits, (ZEP) which do not allow for the inclusion of any dependents, invite their children to that country for the festive season once schools in the country close for the holidays.

He said the authorities are also aware of the requirement that the minors travel with their guardians accompanied by supporting affidavits obtained from their consenting parents in line with agreed procedures.

“However, the SA authorities are not accepting commissioned affidavits preferring that minors and their guardians tender affidavits commissioned by local courts,” he said, adding that Zimbabwean authorities remain committed to cooperating with their SA counterparts and the region to ensure that movement through borders in the region remain safe, orderly and regularly. New Ziana

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