Pretoria – Eight Zimbabwean children who were found by police in Rustenburg in November last year will be repatriated to Zimbabwe, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled on Monday.
According to the Department of Social Development, Judge Bill Prinsloo said he could not fathom how parents could allow their children to travel with strangers, in a truck, from Beitbridge to Cape Town.
Prinsloo said that he doubted that their parents acted in the best interests of the children.
The children, between the ages of two and 14 years, are currently in the care and protection of the department.
The driver of the truck they were travelling in when they were found by police was in possession of 15 passports – none of which belonged to the minors in transit.
In February, an application for a court interdict was applied for in court by eight adults who claimed to be the parents of the children.
The alleged parents demanded that the children be released into their care but could not provide proof that they are indeed the children’s parents or primary caregivers.
In terms of section 290 of the Children’s Act, there is a need to ascertain where the children will be released to. In this instance, the children will be released to the care and safety of the government of Zimbabwe, according to the department.
Newly appointed Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu welcomed the decision to repatriate the children to Zimbabwe.
“We believe that the South African government, through the Department of Social Development, always acts in the best interest of the child. We want to thank the SAPS, the social workers, the office of the family advocate and all other officials who worked tirelessly to make sure that the children are protected.”
The government of Zimbabwe is expected to receive the children on Tuesday