By- A Zimbabwean truck driver has been arrested in Bluetown, Botswana, after being caught smuggling seven children from Zimbabwe to South Africa through that country.
The incident happened on 3 December.
Eric Mpofu (29) appeared before Botswana Magistrate Chandapiwa Molefi on Monday, charged with the ill-treatment of children.
The children are aged between 9 and 12, and none of them had a passport.
Investigating officer Assistant Superintendent Meshack Mosika told the court that they were still trying to ascertain if Mpofu was not a trafficker.
Mpofu had told Botswana police that he had permission from the legal guardians and parents of the children to take them to South Africa. Said Mosika:
Since the accused was only arrested last week Friday, our investigations are at their initial stages.
Our investigations so far show that the accused was in transit from Zimbabwe to SA through Botswana.
He has no permanent place of residence in Botswana, he does not have any gainful employment in Botswana and he is facing a very serious offence.
We are yet to ascertain charges that could later be levelled against Mpofu since his current charge has an element of human trafficking.
We also fear that the accused is a flight risk. We also believe that the process of investigation will be protracted since it may involve authorities from Zimbabwe and SA.
Mosika opposed the granting of bail to Mpofu saying there is a high likelihood that he will abscond. He said:
There is also the likelihood of having to carry out DNA tests to confirm if the people who will come forward to claim that they are parents of the children are, indeed, their parents.
We are afraid that if the accused is granted bail, he is unlikely to fulfil his bail conditions.
The children are currently in the care of the police.
Mpofu was remanded in custody pending the finalisation of investigations by the police.