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Driver busted for smuggling 19 kids into SA
11/12/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
Trafficking vehicle ... The kids were smuggled in a Toyota Quantum

IMMIGRATION officials in South Africa have arrested an unregistered Zimbabwean cross-border transport operator for smuggling 19 undocumented children into the country.

Never Tshuma, 33, of Emakhandeni in Bulawayo was intercepted on Sunday while attempting to traffick the youngsters through an undesignated crossing point at the Beitbridge Border Post.

The children – aged between two and 17 – were deported and taken to a Save the Children UK reception facility at the border town.

Fifteen of them were said to be from Bulawayo while the remaining four were from Gwanda and Gokwe.

Officer commanding police in Beitbridge District, Chief Superintendent Lawrence Chinhengo said Tshuma will soon appear in court on charges of breaching the Immigration Act.

“He was intercepted by South African immigrations officials while trying to get the minors out of the border yard,” Chinhengo said, adding that a second suspect had managed to flee in a Gauteng-registered Toyota Quantum that was being used in the trafficking.

“Our preliminary investigations indicate that the driver brought the children from Bulawayo and on arrival in Beitbridge, he then helped them illegally cross the border into South Africa,” he said.

Tshuma is believed to have trafficked the children, some of them on school holidays, at the request of their parents who are either residing in South Africa or have relatives living there.

Superintendent Chinhengo cautioned parents against entrusting their children to cross border transporters, better known as omalayitsha.

“We believe omalayitsha are part of human trafficking syndicates targeting specifically, vulnerable young children, as there is a demand for labour and sexual exploitation in South Africa.

“We continue to urge our people to apply for passports rather than resorting to border jumping as there are so many risks involved and again border jumping is also a crime,” he added.

The number of Zimbabwean children being smuggled into the neighboring country is said to be on the rise, and the smugglers charge between R600 and R1, 000.

Immigration experts attribute the increase to a recent tightening of South African immigration laws.

According to new regulations effected in May, a parent or guardian intending to enter the neighboring country with a minor is required to produce an affidavit signed by the other parent or both parents.


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