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Zimbabwean men nicked in Botswana for child trafficking

by Sukulwenkosi Dube
12 Dec 2014 at 06:43hrs | Views
TWO Zimbabweans have been arrested after they were caught illegally ferrying 13 children to South Africa with two of the kids alleging that they were kidnapped at night from their home in Bulilima.

Innocent Ncube, 30, and Nathaniel Gumbo, 28, were arrested in Francistown, Botswana, on Monday morning for involvement in a suspected case of human trafficking while their suspected accomplice Mujibha Ncube is on the run.

They had 13 children from different villages in Bulilima aged between five and 19 years in their custody.

Assistant Regional Immigration Officer in charge of Plumtree Border Post, Nqobile Ncube said according to a report from their Botswana counterparts, the two suspects were on their way to meet their suspected accomplice in Botswana.

He said Innocent and Gumbo who did not have travel documents are suspected to have used an illegal exit point to take the children into Botswana while Mujibha formally crossed the border in his vehicle.

"It appears that these three men used Mujibha's vehicle to mobilise the children and he dropped them at an unlawful exit point. Two of the suspects then proceeded to board a kombi along with the children when they had reached the neighbouring country," said Ncube.

He said two Botswana officers stopped the vehicle near Francistown Airport and questioned the two men who claimed that the children were in transit to South Africa visiting their parents.

Ncube said according to Botswana officials 11 of the children concurred with this claim while two others said they had been kidnapped from their home in Dombodema area while they were asleep.

The two children claimed that they were taken without the knowledge of their grandparents.

Ncube said Innocent and Gumbo told police they were on their way to meet with Mujibha at Masunga area.

He said his office had conveyed the 13 children to the International Organisation for Migration office and social welfare department where they were waiting to be re-united with their families.

Ncube lamented the child smuggling cases which were rampant during the school holidays and festive season.

He said it seemed to be a trend for South Africa-based Zimbabweans to facilitate the illegal travelling of their children during this time of the year.

He said a number of parents were putting the lives of their children at risk by engaging the services of omalayitsha to illegally transport their children to neighbouring countries where they work.

"I would like to appeal to parents that overlook the need of getting travel documents for their children and prioritise services of omalayitsha.

"They are not aware of the danger which they are exposing their children to.

"Some of the girl children are raped on the way while others are forced to sleep in the bushes during the transition period," he said.

Ncube said parents were prepared to fork out large amounts of money for the services of omalayitsha instead of securing passports which were now affordable and easy to access.

He said as the festive season drew close more parents would risk their children's lives and put them through traumatising experiences in order to get them to their workplaces.

"As we approach the festive season I would like to appeal to the paternal instincts of parents so that they will protect their children from traumatising experiences."

He said the two accused persons were under Botswana police custody awaiting court hearing.

A social services department official who preferred anonymity said the children were housed at the Social Services Department Child Care Centre stationed in Plumtree.

He said only one child had been collected by relatives by 2PM yesterday.

He said the social services department was still carrying out a process to identify genuine relatives of the children.

The official said they had to exercise caution when carrying this exercise as some people would collect the children only to take them back across the border.

He said interviews had shown that all 13 children were staying with their relatives in Bulilima as their biological parents were in South Africa.

The official said they would make follow ups of all the children that would be released.

Source - chronicle