Fifty-seven Malawian children between the ages of 11 and 21 have been rescued from three suspected human traffickers in South Africa.
Three Malawian nationals who were transporting the children have since been arrested by South African police.
Accoridng to Times Live, the suspectes appeared briefly at the Rustenburg Regional Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday morning. Their case was postponed to September 13. They are facing 57 counts of human trafficking.
The men – aged between 25 and 36 – had refused to open the back of truck when they were apprehended by the police on Sunday near Rustenburg.
Accoridng to acting National Police Commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane , when police opened the truck‚ two children fell to the ground.
”On investigation and during the search, 57 undocumented children between the ages of 11 and 21 were found in the back of a delivery truck which did not have windows,” Lieutenant General Phahlane is quoted by Eye Witness.
Phahlane said the Malawian children were being transported “as if they were goats.”
The children are now being cared for at a place of safety by the social development department in North West. . Eighteen of them are girls while 39 of are boys.
“They are well looked after by under the auspices of the Department of Social Development in the North West Province [as] these centres provide support and care in line with the Child Care Act‚” said Phahlane.
Phahlane says it’s unclear at this stage whether the children were being trafficked for labour or sexual exploitation.
“These children were transported by the three adult occupants, including the driver, who are Malawian nationals. These adults could not provide a satisfactory account on the status of all the children,” said Phahlane as quoted by IOL.
“The driver and his two companions were arrested for human trafficking. Further probe has revealed that all children were also Malawian nationals. An investigation is currently underway which involves authorities and law enforcement agencies including engagements with our counterparts in Malawi.”