The parents of eight children, who are currently in the care of the state, after they were found undocumented in the back of a truck in Rustenburg in November last year, have approached the courts, demanding that their children be released into their care.
In court papers seen by News24 and filed in the North Gauteng High Court on Wednesday, parents of the eight children have demanded that their children be released into their care or to the Zimbabwean Embassy immediately.
According to an affidavit deposed by one of the parents, her son was detained by South African authorities in the North West province without her consent or a court order.
In December, repatriation forms were signed and stamped in order for the children to return back to Zimbabwe, the affidavit states. “To this date, the children have not been sent back to Zimbabwe,” the affidavit reads.
“As a parent, it is my right to demand to be reunited with my child immediately.”
Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini on Saturday confirmed that she received court documents, filed by the parents of the children “who were found unaccompanied and undocumented by members of the South African Police Service in North West”.
Dlamini, in a statement, said the children – who were smuggled into the country – are currently in the care of the state through The Department of Social Development pending repatriation into the care of the Zimbabwean Department of Social Services.
“The Department of Social Development has a memorandum of understanding with its counterpart in Zimbabwe on matters related to unaccompanied and undocumented minors,” said Dlamini in the statement.
“To this end, the Minister of Social Development is working tirelessly with the Department of Home Affairs to make sure that the children are transferred into the care and protection of the Zimbabwean Government as per the provision of the MOU as well as regional and international treaties, including the African Charter on the Rights and the Welfare of the Child and the UN Conversation on the Rights of the Child to which South Africa is a signatory.”
Dlamini further stated that the office of the Consular-General of Zimbabwe is fully aware of all the developments as their office has been highly involved.
“They have conducted interviews, assessed and confirmed that the children were of Zimbabwean nationality.”
“It should be noted that the children were issued with repatriation certificates by their Consular-General after the determination thereof.”
The minister said a confirmation letter from the Zimbabwean department of social services is now awaited so that the children can officially be received by the relevant authority in Zimbabwe.