Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Beitbridge Senator Tambudzani Mohadi has challenged Sadc Governments to increase cooperation in combating illegal migration, mainly child smuggling.
She said it was sad to note that between Zimbabwe and South Africa, border authorities were intercepting an average of 60 children being smuggled into either country.
Speaking during an anti-trafficking campaign at Dulivhadzimu Stadium yesterday, Sen Mohadi said migrant smugglers were increasingly becoming more organised and cunning, hence the need for Government to come up with a well-coordinated approach to minimise the trend.
“Currently its too scattered and incomplete to paint an accurate picture of numbers of people who are smuggled each year and the routes and methods used by the perpetrators,” said Sen Mohadi.
“However, available evidence points to the fact that smuggling is a highly profitable business with criminals enjoying the low risk of detection and punishment.
“These (smugglers) are becoming more and more organised, establish professional networks that transcends borders and regions.
‘‘Their modus operandi is very diverse and thousands of people have lost their lives as a result of the different or even deliberate actions of migrant smugglers.
“These factors highlight the need for responses to combat the crime of migrant smuggling to be coordinated across and between regions and adaptable to new methods.”
She continued; “We encourage governments within our region to increase corporation on combating issues of irregular migration.
‘‘It is pleasing to note that the UNODC is willing to assist countries in implementing the Smuggling of Migrants Protocol while promoting a comprehensive response to the issue (of migrant smuggling).”
The senator also discouraged those communities living within the borders to be champions of anti-human smuggling than being facilitators of the crime.
She said the smuggling of children across border was common during major and school holidays.
Sen Mohadi said the illegal immigrants were vulnerable to a number of criminal vices including robberies, murder, rape, sexual abuse among others.
“Our appeal as the people’s leaders, to the communities living within or around borders to desist from facilitating illegal migration.
“We need to change the narrative and be communities that value our children, communities that speak to the need for resources and enablers that will see less and less reason why persons should opt to illegally leave the country,” said the Senator.
The Herald understands that the people involved in human smuggling charge anything between R2000 and R3000 to transport people between Zimbabwe and South Africa depending with the destination.
According to the Department of Immigration 10 cases of child smuggling were recorded in the last festive season following the deployment of a Regional Compliance and Enforcement Unit to Beitbridge.