By Thupeyo Muleya in Beitbridge
Police have arrested a 32-year-old Bulawayo man for allegedly smuggling 21 children aged between one and 16 years into
South Africa through an illegal crossing point along the Limpopo River.
Kenias Mhlanga of Magwegwe West in Bulawayo is facing charges of human trafficking and facilitating illegal migration.
It is understood the suspect took the children from Bulawayo and was taking them to Johannesburg claiming to have been hired by their parents.
Mhlanga was apprehended in South Africa at around 6am yesterday while loading the children into his South African registered Toyota Quantum.
Seven other men who were travelling in the same vehicle were also arrested for contravening the Immigration Act.
Among the seven, five had valid travel passports though they had opted to leave the country through an illegal crossing point.
Police Officer Commanding Beitbridge Chief Superintendent Lawr-ence Chinhengo said investigations were underway.
He said the children had since been taken under the care of Save the Children Centre in the border town while investigations continue. The Toyota Quantum was impounded. Chief Supt Chinhengo appealed to people to desist from such heinous acts that were tantamount to negligence and putting their children at risk.
"The suspect was arrested by our counterparts across the Limpopo at around 6am while loading the children into the car in a bushy area between the South African side of the border and Musina town.
"They then handed him over to us. More charges will be preferred against him upon completion of investigations.
"At the moment preliminary investigations reveal that Mhlanga had taken the children from Bulawayo and was taking them to South Africa."
He said Mhlanga had instructed the seven adults to take the children into South Africa through an illegal crossing point.
"We are yet to verify the suspect's claim that he was taking them to their parents. We are also interested in interviewing the parents. This is very disturbing and we want to urge people to always live by the laws of the land.
"The suspect will soon be sent to court and we want to strongly warn all those involved in such criminal acts that their days are numbered" he said.
A few years ago, 13 suspects were arrested by police from Zimbabwe and South Africa for similar offences.