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Quick action by authorities prevented over 400 unaccompanied minors from potentially being trafficked into South Africa this week.
Border guards searched buses at the Zimbabwe crossing in Beitbridge. They uncovered 443 children under the age of eight travelling without parents in 42 vehicles.
Officials denied all entry and coordinated the return of the vulnerable kids to safety in Zimbabwe.
“This sting stopped trafficking over 400 children into the country,” said Border Management Authority (BMA) Commissioner Michael Masiapato on Sunday. He briefed the media alongside police on anti-crime holiday season operations.
President Cyril Ramaphosa recently hailed the new BMA for curbing illegal immigration and exploitation. This mass rescue validated the agency’s role in shielding borders.
Alongside humans, drug and vehicle trafficking threats are also rising. With pre-pandemic tourism rebounding, over six million travellers are expected over the summer.
“We have measures to detect and confiscate narcotics, stolen cars and illicit goods,” Masiapato emphasized. “Anyone committing crimes will be arrested, banned and deported.”
Officers are vigilant against all border area criminal activity. But protecting innocent victims like these rescued minors remains the top priority during increased seasonal migration.