Police in South Africa have rescued fifty seven Malawian children from the hands of human traffickers.
The young Malawians who are between the ages of 11 and 21 are now at a place of safety in the rainbow nation, Malawi24 understands.
According to reports, in the early hours of Tuesday, two police officers spotted a white ‘delivery’ truck travelling at high speed in Rustenburg in South Africa.
In the front seats of the truck were the driver and two other people.
When they were stopped they refused to answer questions related to what they were transporting and refused to open the back.
When officers forced open the back of the truck, two children fell to the ground.
Officers found 18 young Malawian girls and 39 boys inside the enclosed back, which had a makeshift window at the top. Undocumented and shaken – the group was immediately taken to a place of safety.
“They are well looked after and the Department of Social Development will do justice. Immediately after they were found, they were to be taken for assessments or treatments,” said acting national police commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane.
Details of their travel is still sketchy and authorities say they are investigating. It is unclear how long they had been on the road, how they crossed the border, what their intended destination was and exactly what they were trafficked for.
The driver and two passengers, who are Malawians by nationality, were arrested at this point.
“They were arrested for human trafficking. The suspects appeared briefly at the Rustenburg regional magistrate’s court on Tuesday – their case has been postponed to 13 September 2016 – facing 57 counts of human trafficking,” said Phahlane.
South African authorities have since disclosed that they are working with Malawian officials in their investigations.
By December 2016, the Malawi government confirmed the trafficked Malawians would be repatriated by 13th December 2016.