Minister receives court papers on smuggled children

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has disputed reports that the children who were found in a truck in Rustenburg en-route to Cape Town are being held in the country against their biological parents’ will.

The department confirmed on Tuesday that Minister Dlamini has received court documents filed by the parents of the children, who were found unaccompanied and undocumented by members of the South African Police Service (SASPS) in North West.

“The children, who were smuggled into the country, are currently in the care of the State through the department, pending repatriation into the care of the Zimbabwean Department of Social Services.

“The Department of Social Development has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with its counterpart in Zimbabwe on matters related to unaccompanied and undocumented minors,” the department explained.

The department said the Minister is working with the Department of Home Affairs to make sure that the children are transferred into the care and protection of the Zimbabwean government, as per the provision of the MOU, as well as regional and international treaties, including the African Charter on the Rights and the Welfare of the Child and the UN Conversation on the Rights of the Child, to which South Africa is a signatory.

In terms of these treaties, South Africa has an obligation to protect the human rights of all children within its borders, irrespective of nationality.

The South African government has also enacted the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act.

The department said the Consular-General of Zimbabwe is fully aware of all the developments, as their office has been highly involved.

“They have conducted interviews, assessed and confirmed that the children were of Zimbabwean nationality. It should be noted that the children were issued with repatriation certificates by their Consular-General after the determination thereof.

“A confirmation letter from the Zimbabwean Department of Social Services is now awaited so that the children can officially be received by the relevant authority in Zimbabwe,” the department said

It also noted that on receipt of all outstanding documents, the Zimbabwean Consulate will issue emergency travel documents and the children will be handed over to the Department of Social Services in Harare to be reunited with their families. –

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