Police in neighbouring South Africa have rescued 37 undocumented Zimbabweans from a human trafficking syndicate and arrested two taxi drivers who were transporting the victims.
The boarder jumpers — 21 men, 11 women and five children — were intercepted in Polokwane while on their way to Pretoria. In a statement, Limpopo provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoape said they received a tip-off that three Toyota Quantum kombis were transporting illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe to Pretoria on Thursday last week.
“According to information, the Zimbabwean illegal immigrants crossed into South Africa through an illegal crossing point. We intercepted two taxis and we are still searching for the third one and its driver. We suspect that these people were being trafficked and we are investigating,” said Lt-Col Ngoape.
He said the intercepted vehicles were being driven along the N1 South highway.
“The cars, which were heading towards Pretoria, were spotted just before Polokwane and on being stopped, a search was conducted and it was discovered that the 37 Zimbabweans were all illegal immigrants,” said the police spokesperson.
Lt-Col Ngoape said the Zimbabweans will be charged for violating the Immigration Act while the two drivers are facing charges of transporting illegal immigrants under the same Act.
He said the two drivers and the victims will all appear in the Polokwane magistrate’s court soon. According to the Department of Immigration, an average of 100 illegal migrants are intercepted daily at Beitbridge Border Post as they try to enter South Africa.
Zimbabwean border jumpers wishing to cross into South Africa are helped by commuter omnibus drivers commonly known as omalayitsha who are well connected to officials on both sides of the border.