South Africa: Gigaba’s UBC rules a bunch of bollocks – and that a fact!


unabridged_birth_certificate_children_south_africa

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Tourism Update, in a special report, reveal that South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs cannot back up any of the stats they have given to increase visa and travel rules to the country.

Earlier this year, the Department of Home Affairs made headlines with claims that 15 child trafficking cases had been detected at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg. Then Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba (rember – president Jacob Zuma made him Finance Minister overnight and the Rand went ‘bang’ – Rd.), announced the news of the 15 cases the day before Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle in an attempt to justify the “success” of his restrictive border policy.

Tourism Update then asked investigative journalist Nicola Mawson to find out whether these cases were indeed child trafficking.

But first the background: South Africa made it law in October 2015 for parents moving children in and out of SA to carry with them an unabridged birth certificate.In addition, minors travelling with only one parent required the other’s permission to move the child out of or into the country. The Department of Home Affairs said when introducing the requirement, that this was ostensibly to stop children being moved illegally – or trafficked. There have been claims that as many as 30 000 children were trafficked in SA every year – but Africa Check’s research found that the numbers were not backed up by research.

However, Tourism Update quotes Modiri Matthews, Chief Director of Inspectorate at the department who said in a telephone interview that not all the 15 cases announced by the Minister were child trafficking – as some involved parental abduction and illegal adoption.

In response to e-mailed questions, Tebogo Phokanoko, Deputy Director at the Central Law Enforcement unit, failed to provide numbers of how many children were spirited out of SA illegally since the law came into effect, noting ports of entry could provide further numbers. Phokanoko was specifically asked how many instances of child trafficking there were, and did not provide one example.

However, Phokanoko cites examples of a Chinese minor being abducted by the child’s father to China, noting that the matter is currently in court.

There have also been cases of illicit adoption, in which a Democratic Republic of Congo child was illegally adopted. That matter is also in court, and a process is under way to determine exactly who its parents are and establish legitimacy, says Phokanoko.

In some cases, the department had to liaise with Department of Social Development, the South African Police Service and National Prosecuting Authority, says Phokanoko.

Phokanoko adds most of the cases the department comes across are of minors being smuggled into South Africa by land, mostly from Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique.

The African Centre for Migration & Society noted in May 2014, after the DHA had announced that the new regulations would come into effect, that there was, at the time, “no systematic research available that provides comprehensive insight into the prevalence or patterns of trafficking into or out of South Africa or the Southern African region”.

These claims were backed up by research by Africa Check, which found that the estimates of how many children were trafficked in SA could not be backed up. The website also quotes Liesl Muller and Patricia Erasmus, both attorneys at Lawyers for Human Rights, as noting that DHA’s efforts won’t stop trafficking, because traffickers don’t use legal ports of entry.

It seems, therefore, that the DHA’s initial stated intention to cut down on trafficking was a mere smokescreen.

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