Latest revelations about identities of minors among the 57 Malawians intercepted in South Africa in what is believed to be a human trafficking case, indicate a 13-year-old girl is among them.
She was recruited together with her 11-year-old brother as well as 80 others from Chilipa in Mangochi, according Malawi consular general Fraser Nihorya.
“As we are getting more details on the matter, we have gathered that the two youngest of the group are siblings and were recruited by locals involved in this malpractice.
“The children are stressed up as they think they have been arrested and a meeting involving us, South African police and the social services department has agreed that a doctor should assess them all. Me and other Malawians will visit them again tomorrow,” he said.
The van had 82 Malawians at the time police in Rustenburg, South Africa, stopped it due to over speeding.
“Fifty-seven of them were aged between 11 and 21. This is a group that is being treated as victims of human trafficking. The others are adults and were taken for entering South Africa without proper documentation as they had no passports. These, we think will be taken to Lindera Repatriation Centre,” said Nihorya.
According to Nihorya, police investigations this far indicate that this was a big syndicate involving Malawians both within and outside South Africa.
“The suspects are speaking about three languages of South Africa and the mastermind came here in 1990, so they are old-timers here. The delivery van that was transporting them is believed to be owned by one of the three.
“The three initially said the owner of the people was in Malawi. They now claim he is at Beit Bridge, but police believe the leader is among the suspects,” he said.
Identities of the three suspects, who are scheduled to appear before the
Rustenburg Regional Magistrate’s Court on September 13—facing 57 counts of human trafficking—are being kept under wraps by the police to avoid jeopardising investigations.