SA: Parents of deported Zimbabwean children arrested in midnight raid

First their children were taken away from them‚ now Zimbabwean parents living in South Africa are behind bars.

Eight children were repatriated last week‚ marking the end of a legal battle between their parents and the ministers of social development and home affairs.

In November they were taken into care when they were found in Rustenburg‚ travelling from Zimbabwe in a truck — unaccompanied by an adult and without the necessary documentation.

But the parents‚ most of whom moved for economic reasons‚ said they had no choice but to send for their children. They had struggled to obtain documentation such as passports. One parent said her daughter’s caregiver had died and she had nowhere to go.

The parents‚ who live in Cape Town‚ went to court seeking the release of their children aged between two and 14.

Now officials are focusing on the parents. “Two are behind bars. There was a midnight raid at their homes on the weekend‚” said their advocate‚ Simba Chitando.

“The rest are staying with friends.” Last week when the first parent was taken into custody‚ shortly after the children arrived in Zimbabwe‚ home affairs spokesman Thabo Mokgola said if the adults were in South Africa legally‚ “nothing will happen”. However‚ “if they don’t have the proper documentation‚ the law has to apply”.

He added: “These children were smuggled into the country and were intercepted by the law. Anyone coming into the country has to present themselves in front of an immigration officer.”