SA: Alleged Zim trafficker, found with 14 undocumented children, denied bail

SA: Alleged Zim trafficker, found with 14 undocumented children, denied bail

By The Citizen

SOUTH AFRICA: A 41-year-old Zimbabwean woman, who was arrested for allegedly trafficking in persons after being seen boarding a bus in Midrand with 14 undocumented children in December, has been denied bail.

On Wednesday 6 December 2023, Beaula Maruza, 41, and her co-accused and fellow Zimbabwean, Tafadzwa Otis Nadakurwa, 46, were arrested during an operation in Kimberly after they were seen boarding a bus in Midrand with 14 documented children aged between six and 14 years old.

At the time of the arrest, Lieutenant Colonel Tebogo Thebe said the police were notified about the incident by a passenger on the bus that was travelling to Cape Town.

Suspects claimed to be taking the children to Cape Town

According to the Hawks, during a stopover in Kimberly, the passenger called an off-duty police officer, who in turn alerted the multi-disciplinary team consisting of the Kimberley Crime Prevention, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit, Hawks Serious Organised Crime Investigation, and Kimberley Family Violence for investigation and arrest.

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Thebe said Maruza and Nadakurwa claimed to be taking the eight boys and six girls to their parents in Cape Town, but the information could not be verified, leading to the arrest.

The children were inspected, looked dirty without any additional clothes or bags, and looked hungry.

Suspects expected back in court on 12 February

The Hawks confirmed that 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 food.

Warrant Officer Nomthandazo Mnisi confirmed that Maruza had been denied bail on Monday at the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court.

Meanwhile, Nadakurwa was released on bail, and both accused are expected to be back in court on 12 February 2024.

Also in December 2023, the Border Management Authority (BMA) alleged that 443 unaccompanied Zimbabwean children below the age of 8 years were intercepted in South Africa on fears of child trafficking and handed over to Zimbabwe authorities.

However, the Zimbabwean Ministry of Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare said the numbers were not adding up.