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By Shanice Naidoo

Digital Journalist

Grim border rescue: BMA halts trafficking of more than 400 children into SA

A sting operation at the Beitbridge border post saved 443 children from being trafficked from Zimbabwe into South Africa. 

In a operation conducted by the Border Management Authority (BMA), approximately 443 children from Zimbabwe were rescued from potential trafficking into South Africa on Saturday, 2 December.

EWN reported that the BMA provided a crucial update on its state of readiness ahead of the festive season, revealing a comprehensive strategy to ensure border security.

Trafficking attempt of young children at Beitbridge

During a coordinated effort by law enforcement officials on Saturday night, 42 buses were thoroughly searched at the Beitbridge border post. 

Shockingly, children under the age of eight were discovered travelling unaccompanied, raising the suspicion of human trafficking.

Michael Masiapato, commander of the border guard, commented on the situation: “Children under the age of eight, who were in those buses without a parent or a guardian.

“Fairly, they were being trafficked into South Africa. We were able to take them out of those buses, we were able to engage with Zimbabwean officials and we were able to send them back for processing.”

READ ALSO: Human trafficking statistics ‘in triple digits’

Illegal entrants deported

The BMA highlighted additional accomplishments in its border management efforts, noting the prevention of over 44,000 individuals attempting illegal entry into South Africa since the transitional period of April 2023. These individuals were subsequently deported, underscoring the effectiveness of the authority’s measures.

As the country anticipates a significant influx of travelers during the festive season, the BMA announced plans to extend operating hours at critical ports.

Additional personnel to be deployed

 An extra 380 personnel will be deployed at selected busiest ports of entry to accommodate the movement of an estimated six million people through various borders, airports, and harbors in South Africa during December.

READ ALSO: Sexual exploitation remains main driver of human trafficking in SA

Commander Masiapato emphasized the importance of these measures, stating, “In terms of Groblers Bridge – port of entry to Botswana, the normal operating hours are always between 6 am and 10 pm, so we extended the time by two hours. We shall be closing at midnight on 15 and 16 December as well as 22 and 23 December.” Similar adjustments will be made at ports in Lesotho and Eswatini.

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