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South Africa: Authorities continue to rescue human trafficked victims

25.02.2024 | Staff reporter

SA Police intercept more people trafficked from Zimbabwe

Police in Limpopo said they had intercepted a convoy of motor vehicles that were traveling from Zimbabwe and heading to Polokwane, carrying more than 100 undocumented foreign nationals.

Limpopo police spokesperson, Brigadier Hlulani Mashaba said the vehicles were allegedly loaded with 133 undocumented children, women, and men before they were intercepted by the Limpopo provincial tracking team.
"The police operationalized on information received and managed to locate 11 motor vehicles traveling along the N1 North bypass gateway, outside Polokwane," said Mashaba.
"The vehicles were tactically approached, stopped and searched and found to be overloaded with 73 underage children between six months and 17 years, including 60 adults," he said.
"The passengers could not provide the legal documentation for being in the country and were placed under arrest on the spot. Most of the passengers could not establish where they were going and were suspected to be victims of human trafficking."
Mashaba said police also seized eight Toyota Quantum vehicles, two Toyota Hilux GD6 double cab bakkies, with canopies, and a Toyota Fortuner.
"The police and other stakeholders comprising the Department of Home Affairs and Department of Social Development have been summoned to process the undocumented foreign nationals and suspected victims of human trafficking. Police investigations are continuing," he said.
Last week, IOL reported that two Zimbabwean nationals were arrested over human trafficking charges after being found transporting 14 children to Cape Town. The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, also known as the Hawks, said the duo could face additional charges as the investigation continues.
Tafadzwa Nakakurwa, 46, and his 41-year-old alleged accomplice, Beulla Maruza, appeared in the Kimberley District Court on Thursday.
Hawks spokesperson, Tebogo Thebe said the two were seen boarding a bus, Big Sky Intercity Coaches, owned by Intercape, in Midrand with the undocumented children, aged between six and 14.
"Police were alerted to the incident by a vigilant passenger in a bus from Midrand in Johannesburg en route to Cape Town. The bus made a stopover in Kimberley. The passenger called an off-duty police officer who, in turn, alerted the multi-disciplinary team.

"The suspects claimed to be taking the kids to their parents in Cape Town, information the police could not verify, leading to the arrests.

"The victims (eight boys and six girls) were inspected and looked dirty and without any additional clothes or bags. They were also hungry. A Provincial Trafficking in Persons rapid response team led by the Department of Social Development was contacted to assist with placing the kids at a place of safety and providing food," said Thebe.

Source - newsday


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