South Africa Intercepts 443 Unaccompanied Children Allegedly Trafficked from Zimbabwe

Human Trafficking Operation Thwarted Amidst Rising Immigration Concerns in South Africa
December 3, 2023
michael masiapato | Report Focus News
michael masiapato

Johannesburg, December 3, 2023 – In a significant operation on Saturday night, South Africa’s Border Management Authority (BMA) revealed the interception of 443 unaccompanied children believed to be victims of human trafficking from Zimbabwe. The BMA made the announcement during a media briefing on Sunday, confirming that the children, all under the age of eight, were being returned to Zimbabwe.

BMA Commissioner Michael Masiapato detailed the operation, stating, “A sting operation was conducted by the border guards, the home affairs anti-corruption team, as well as members of the South African Police Service at the Beitbridge border post. They were able to stop and search about 42 buses trying to enter the republic, and out of that, we found 443 children without any parent or guardian. Clearly, they were being trafficked into South Africa.”

The intercepted children were denied entry into South Africa, and the BMA promptly activated Zimbabwean officials to facilitate their return.

It is suspected that the children were intending to join their parents in South Africa for the Christmas holidays after schools closed on December 1. Over a million Zimbabweans live and work in South Africa, contributing to the complex issue of immigration in the region.

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) is gearing up for a challenging election next year, with immigration emerging as one of the pivotal election issues. In response to rising concerns, President Cyril Ramaphosa established the BMA in October to address the influx of illegal migrants through the northern border with Zimbabwe. Despite these efforts, reports indicate that some individuals still manage to enter the country through bribes paid to officials on both sides of the border.

Commissioner Masiapato emphasized the BMA’s commitment to combating corruption within its ranks. Currently, 18 officials are undergoing disciplinary action for allegedly facilitating the entry of illegal immigrants into South Africa, with eight of them already terminated from their positions. Masiapato stated, “We have adopted zero tolerance for corrupt tendencies among our own officials.”

As the investigation unfolds, the incident highlights the ongoing challenges faced by South Africa in securing its borders and addressing the complexities surrounding immigration.