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Fifteen children were among 22 people who were to be transported to South Africa this week in what an NGO calls “organised crime”, calling for greater commitment from authorities in the fight against human trafficking in the country.
Police in Mozambique said on Friday that they had foiled the attempted smuggling of 22 people, including 15 children between the ages of five and 12, to South Africa when they inspected a vehicle at the Ponta do Ouro border post region, in the south of the country, on Wednesday.
Two suspects were detained, and criminal cases have been opened, while the children were handed back to their families, police spokesman Fernando Manhiça said.
“When the vehicle was inspected, we found 22 people inside with no documents enabling them to cross the border, and we suspected people trafficking,” he said.
The alleged traffickers claim that the children were on their way to meet their parents in South Africa, but the Executive Director of the Friends of the Child Network, Célia Claudina, explained that Mozambican legislation only allows children to be transported across a border if there is a “parent’s credential”.
Claudina told DW Africa what state the children were in when they were rescued. “When they were found they were afraid to contact people. This is the clearest sign that they were being transported improperly and irregularly,” she added.
Claudina cites the case as evidence of organised crime. “There are signs that this type of practice is frequent in our country, but cases are not properly investigated. Unfortunately, because of information leaks, the police were unable to find the evidence of outright child trafficking.”
Poverty favours crime
Police spokesman Fernando Manhiça said: “There are individuals who cross the border in search of better living conditions. Others come from South Africa to Mozambique.” He appealed to the population for help to “publicise any kind of illegality with a view to closing down such operations”.
Trafficking occur in communities throughout the country. Victims are enticed with promises of better working and living conditions, but are often forced to work unpaid or prostitute themselves, or are forced into marriage.Source: Deutsche Welle
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