Abducted SA children to be repatriated from Malawi

Monday, June 22, 2015

Pretoria – The Department of Social Development will today lead a specialist team to Malawi to repatriate a 14-year-old minor and a 20-year-old youth, who were allegedly abducted and trafficked to Malawi.

The youngsters, who are from Mpumalanga, were removed from the care of their grandmother and taken to Malawi by a woman who posed as a former teacher in July 2014. 

The woman had promised to send them to the United Kingdom (UK) to further their education.

According to the grandmother, the 14-year-old had learning difficulties and the alleged abductor had offered to take the child to the UK for specialist care the grandmother could not afford.

Preliminary investigations by the department show alleged physical abuse and exploitation of the children by the woman. The promise of taking them to the UK to further their studies has also not materialised.

The 14-year-old is said to be suffering from malaria.

Following an investigation, a specialist team comprising of the Department of Social Development’s International Social Services and Interpol will travel to Malawi to return the child and youth safely back home.

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said the case highlights the need for society as a whole to be vigilant about the trafficking of children. She urged South Africans to be cautious about who they bring into their homes. 

“Just like abuse, child trafficking is often perpetrated by people known to the family. Child trafficking is of particular concern to government because when children are wrongfully moved between countries and end up exploited, they have no immediate support available to them because they don’t know anyone in the countries they are abducted to,” said Minister Dlamini.

According to the UN's 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons in Africa and the Middle East, between 2010 and 2012, sexual exploitation accounted for 53% of trafficking victims, while 37% were subjected to forced labour, servitude and modern day slavery.

While South Africa has put in place legislative measures to prevent human trafficking, the country is still a source, transit point, and destination country for children, men and women subjected to trafficking for forced labour and sexual exploitation.

Minister Dlamini reiterated a call she made during Child Protection Week that South African citizens, especially parents, teachers, caregivers and people working with children must educate themselves on the factors that make children vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking in order to prevent it from taking place.

On their return to South Africa, the child and youth will be further examined by social workers and health professionals to ascertain their holistic well-being with the view to provide the necessary care and support as well as a smooth reintegration into the country. – SAnews.gov.za

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