On Sunday, police stopped a suspicious delivery truck driving at high speed. On investigation, 57 undocumented Malawian children aged between 11 and 21 years were found in the back of the truck which had no windows.
Eighteen of these children are girls while 39 of them are boys, Acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane said, on Tuesday.
“These children were transported by the three adult occupants including the driver, who are Malawian nationals. These adults could not provide a satisfactory account on the status of all the children.”
The three Malawian nationals were arrested for human trafficking and have been remanded in custody after appearing in court on Monday.
Their case has been postponed to the 13th of September 2016.
General Phahlane said an investigation is currently underway which involves authorities and law enforcement agencies including engagements with counterparts in Malawi.
He said it appears the victims, which were lured from impoverished parts of that country, were lured to South Africa with promises of money.
The children are being cared for by the North West Department of Social Development.
“The issues related to how these children were able to cross the borders of our country, including how they were able to reach Rustenburg is a matter of serious concern. The outcome of the investigation in finding answers to all the related questions is thus eagerly awaited,” said General Phahlane.
Just two weeks ago the police rescued 16 girls from a house in Kempton Park. The youngest girl was 15-years-old. It is suspected that the girls were being used as prostitutes.
General Phahlane said police will continue to crack down on syndicates involved in the smuggling and exploitation of migrants and human trafficking.
He called on all the community members to rally behind the police in dealing with the scourge by reporting any suspicious behaviour to the police toll free line: 10111.
“Human trafficking is a serious human right violation and the South African Police Service will ensure that it follows up on leads which will assist in reducing such incidences.”