443 Children Prevented from Trafficking, Returned to Zimbabwe
South Africa’s Border Management Authority (BMA) has successfully thwarted an alleged trafficking attempt involving 443 children from Zimbabwe into South Africa. The authority provided updates on its state of readiness ahead of the festive season during a briefing on Sunday.
A sting operation conducted on Saturday night involved the search of 42 buses at the Beitbridge border post. Officials discovered children under the age of eight traveling without parents or guardians, indicating potential trafficking. Commander of the border guard, Michael Masiapato, confirmed the situation: “Fairly, they were being trafficked into South Africa. We were able to take them out of those buses, engage with Zimbabwean officials, and send them back for processing.”
Reflecting on successes in the transitional period since April 2023, the BMA reported preventing over 44,000 individuals from entering South Africa illegally, subsequently deporting them.
As part of heightened security measures for the festive season, the BMA announced the extension of operating hours at critical ports across the country. An additional 380 personnel will be deployed at selected busiest ports of entry. With an estimated six million people expected to traverse borders, airports, and harbors in December, the BMA aims to ensure effective border management.
Commander Masiapato highlighted the operational adjustments, stating, “While the busiest ports are operational 24/7, others receive a lot of traffic around this time of the year.” Specifically, the operating hours at Groblers Bridge, the port of entry to Botswana, will be extended by two hours, closing at midnight on 15 and 16 December, as well as 22 and 23 December. Similar extensions will apply to ports in Lesotho and Eswatini.
The successful interception of the trafficking attempt underscores the importance of vigilant border control efforts to protect vulnerable individuals, especially children, from exploitation and harm.- state media