THE South African Border Management Authority (BMA) has introduced stiff entry requirements for minors travelling into the country following child trafficking allegations at the Beitbridge Boarder Post.
The strict restrictions are expected to be intensified during the festive season.
SA Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi recently revealed that 42 buses with 443 unaccompanied minors on board under the age of eight were intercepted on that country’s side of the border.
There were also unconfirmed reports that the sting operation which netted the unaccompanied children also intercepted more children over the weekend.
In a statement last week, BMA said South Africa remained obliged to look after every child within its borders as guided by the Children’s Act, the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
“The BMA has the responsibility to implement the prescripts of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 as amended, and its accompanying regulations as presented by the Department of Home Affairs,” BMA read.
BMA deputy assistant commissioner (communication and marketing), Mmemme Mogotsi said the requirements were targeted at both South African and foreign visa-exempted children.
“When it comes to unaccompanied minors, these requirements apply to South African children and non-South African children alike and will be implemented without fear, favour or prejudice. For demanding these requirements, the BMA is unapologetic,” Mogotsi said.
She said the requirements would also be intensified during the festive season where authorities expect increased visitors at the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“The BMA does not wish to enter into a numbers game debate. There are legislative requirements for minor children to cross borders anywhere in the world. The Border Management Authority has intensified its operations during this festive period,” Mogotsi said.
In normal circumstances, travel requirements of one, including minors, needed a valid passport.
However, the BMA added a list of requisites for unaccompanied children and children on alternative care following the child trafficking allegations.
According to the requirements, unaccompanied children are required to provide a letter from the person who is to receive the child including his or her residential address and contact details.
It also enquires about details of where the child will reside, including a copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child.
“Where applicable a copy of an adoption order copy or a death certificate of the deceased parent or parents or legal guardian and a copy of a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child are also required.
“Also, children in alternative care are mandated to provide a letter from the Provincial head of the Department of Social Development where the child resides authorising his or her departure from the republic as contemplated in section 169 of the Children’s Act (Act No 38 of 2005),” Mogotsi said in the statement.
A diplomatic tiff between Zimbabwe and South Africa almost exploded following Motsoaledi’s statement with his Zimbabwean counterpart Kazembe Kazembe denying the allegations, especially the number of trafficked children.