Govt denies SA’s claims of intercepting 443 children

Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe has denied such an incident ever taking place.

GOVERNMENT has denied reports that South Africa immigration officials intercepted 42 cross-border vehicles which were ferrying more than 440 unaccompanied children from Zimbabwe into that country.

On Sunday, Border Management Authority (BMA) Mike Masiapato said the law enforcement agency intercepted 443 children, under the age of eight, who were being brought to South Africa.

South African Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi also confirmed the incident.

However, Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe has denied such an incident ever taking place.

"No such incident occurred," Kazembe said during the post cabinet briefing.

"If there was a case of human trafficking of minors the buses, the drivers and the crew would have now been arrested facing human trafficking charges.

"To date Beitbridge border post has no such record what so ever of 42 buses denied entry into South Africa or 443 minors intercepted and handed over to Zimbabwean Authorities."

Kazembe said government was aware that during the festive season South Africa based Zimbabweans invite their children to come over.

"Zimbabwean parents residing in South Africa especially on Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (Zep) which do not allow for the inclusion of any dependence invite their children to South Africa for the festive season," he said.

"It is a requirement that minors travel their guardians accompanied by supporting affidavits obtained from their consenting parents.

"Of late the South African authorities are not accepting commissioned affidavits referring that minors and their guardians tender affidavits commissioned by local courts."

Kazembe said Zimbabwe was open to engage with South Africa over matter.

Zimbabwe had the most migrants coming into South Africa, with over one million of its citizens living in the country, according latest census results issued by Statistics South Africa this year.

Meanwhile, Kazembe said there has been a decline in recorded cholera cases.

"The nation is informed that as at 30 November 2023, Zimbabwe’s cumulative suspected cholera cases were 9 895, with 9 466 recoveries and 53 confirmed deaths. Harare Metropolitan Province, with 607 cases, recorded the highest number of cases during the period 24 to 30  November, 2023," Information minister Jenfan Muswere said.

"This represented a decrease by 98 cases from the cases recorded the previous week. Similarly, slight decreases were recorded in the number of cases in the Mutare Rural and Buhera districts of Manicaland province. The case fatality rate decreased to 2,2%."

He said the decreases in cases and in the case fatality rate are due to prioritised and targeted interventions in the three hotspots.

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