Two Zimbabwean nationals were arrested on charges of human trafficking after they were found boarding a bus with 14 undocumented children during a stopover in Kimberley on Tuesday night.
TWO ZIMBABWEAN nationals were arrested on charges of human trafficking after they were found boarding a bus with 14 undocumented children when the bus made a stopover in Kimberley on Tuesday night.
The arrests were made by a multidisciplinary team that included the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation team, the Kimberley Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) unit and the Kimberley Crime Prevention unit.
Hawks provincial spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Tebogo Thebe said on Wednesday that the suspects – a 46-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman – were seen boarding the bus with eight boys and six girls between the ages of six and 14.
“The police were alerted to the incident by a vigilant passenger on a bus that was travelling from Midrand in Johannesburg en route to Cape Town. The passenger called an off-duty police officer, who in turn alerted the multidisciplinary team for investigation and arrest when the bus stopped in Kimberley,” said Thebe.
He stated that the suspects claimed they were taking the children to their parents in Cape Town.
“The police could not verify the information and the children, upon inspection, looked dirty and hungry and did not carry any additional clothing or bags. The provincial Trafficking in Persons rapid response team, led by the Department of Social Development, was contacted to assist with placing the children at a place of safety and providing them with food.”
Thebe added that the two suspects were expected to appear in court on Thursday.
The provincial head of the Hawks in the Northern Cape, Major-General Steven Mabuela, thanked the vigilant passenger for alerting the off-duty police officer, Sergeant Phumla Mpolokeng, which led to the police’s timely intervention.