The Sunday News
Belinda Moyo, Sunday News Reporter
THE Government has clarified conditions on what is required to enable minors to travel to South Africa, saying it is still committed to fight human trafficking and human smuggling.
The clarification comes following a statement on relaxation of travel requirements issued by the South African Department of Home Affairs that was received with jubilation by parents and guardians intending to travel with minors out of the country.
Parents and guardians thought they were going to forgo the strenuous process of affidavits and the demand for birth certificates and other details such as photocopies of parents’ documents. These have not been scrapped off.
In an interview with Sunday News, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Culture Mr Melusi Matshiya said not much had been removed on the travelling requirements for minors.
He said the Government through the Compliance Unit and the police were firmly on guard for the illicit transporting of children this festive season adding that there was no blanket exemption and the travelling public should adhere to existing travel requirements.
He called for patience on the part of those travelling with minors as they would be subjected to thorough scrutiny on the validity of accompanying documents as it had emerged that some people use fake documents.
“Reference is made to the latest advisory of 01 December 2018 published by the Department of Home Affairs of the Republic of South Africa referring to children travelling through South African Ports of Entry.
“In essence there is no blanket exemption except on the following: Children who are South African citizens traveling to South Africa with South African passports may be accepted by conveyors of travel without presenting birth certificates.
“Such children may be assisted by Immigration Services on arrival at South African ports of entry, while children in possession of valid South African visas, children whose countries endorse parent’s particulars in children’s passports and children on school tours whose parental letter is replaced by a blanket letter from the school head may be exempted,” said Mr Matshiya.
He said on that premise it could only be concluded that there have not been any blanket exemption and the traveling public should be advised to adhere to existing travel requirements.
“Our Compliance Unit together with the Zimbabwe Republic Police is under instruction to focus on illicit transporting of children,” said Mr Matshiya.
He said there would be thorough scrutiny of travelling documents and transporters found in contravention would be prosecuted as the Government was committed to protect minors travelling through their ports.
“We would want to reiterate our unrelenting commitment to protect minors travelling through our ports and we will continue to enforce this position as we focus on illicit transporting of children, to scrutinise the validity of accompanying documents and to prosecute all transporters found in contravention. Our officers have also gone through specialised training to be able to detect cases of human trafficking and human smuggling,” said Mr Matshiya.
Last year in December, more than 100 children without the requisite travelling documents were repatriated back to Zimbabwe from South Africa after being smuggled by cross border drivers (omalayitsha) during the holiday.
The Zimbabwe-South Africa Cross-Border Co-ordination Committee for Unaccompanied and Separated Migrant Children has on many occasions raised concern over the rampant smuggling of minors between the two countries’ borders.