Zim parents in court to stop children’s repatriation

The eight children were seized in November when they travelled unaccompanied and without documents from Zimbabwe to join their parents in SA.

The parents of eight Zimbabwean children, who have been held by authorities since November, and the social development department appeared in the High Court of Pretoria, sitting in the Palace of Justice, on Friday.

The department of social development wants to repatriate the children by March 6.

The children were travelling in early November 2017, unaccompanied and without documents, from Zimbabwe to apparently join their parents for Christmas.

They have been held by the department of social development for three months in Rustenburg without being granted access to their parents.

Their driver has been arrested and appeared in court on charges of human trafficking and contravening the immigration act.

Police say the children were smuggled, which is also the argument of the department of social development. The driver has told officers that he was paid R200 per child to transport them to South Africa.

Advocate Simba Chitando who is representing the parents, on Friday asked for a postponement after the Office of the Family Advocate Chris Maree submitted a report concerning the children.

Chitando said this report caught them by surprise and he needed time to go through it, consult his clients and also amend papers.

“All of my clients are very poor people, they don’t have the resources available to them that the family advocate might have thought they did….That’s the concern we have with the family advocates, they haven’t considered the circumstances of the applicants,” Chitando said.

Questions have been raised on the authenticity of the parents, however Chitando said he’s confident that the parents are genuine.

The parents want the court to stop the repatriation and release the children into their custody.

Spokesperson of department, Lumka Oliphant, said the children are in the country without documentation and have to be repatriated as their 90 days stay in the country has come to an end.

Oliphant said the parents had requested to have visitation rights, but that could not be done because it’s not yet confirmed whether they are the biological parents of the children.

The matter will be heard on Monday.

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