Police in Blantyre have intercepted 21 children in the age ranges of 12-17 who were in transit to Mangochi from a place called Toto in the district of Milanje, Zambesia Province in Mozambique.
The development takes place despite numerous campaigns by various organisations in the border district against the vice.
According to Blantyre Police Station Officer, Brenda Nkhoma, two suspects managed to traffic the children by using unchartered routes in Mulanje until they reached Luchenza where they hired a coaster to Blantyre Wenela bus depot to board a bus to Mangochi.
However, before that took place, Nkhoma said police received tip-offs from a well-wisher that at Wenela bus depo they were suspicious scenes taking place involving these children and the man.
“When our child protection officer arrived at the bus depot he apprehended the suspect and brought the children here. After interrogation the suspect admitted that he was trafficking the children from Mozambique to Mangochi where he wanted to be using them as labourers in his tobacco estate,” she said.
Nkhoma said the suspect, Mateya Salikuchepa from Traditional Authority Namkumba in Mangochi, is expected to appear in court tomorrow to answer charges of human trafficking.
One of the rescued child said they spent two days to reach Blantyre from Milanje and that they were promised lucrative jobs in Mangochi.
The boy said the suspected traffickers did not give them food since they left Mozambique.
“We were promised a good job that’s why our parent gave consent that we should come to Malawi. However we are so grateful to the police for rescuing us from the slavery which we could have experienced,” the boy said.
Reacting to the development, Executive Director for Eye of the Child Maxwell Matewere blamed the State for the porous border and the delay in gazetting the Anti- Human Trafficking and Persons Bill which was passed by Parliament.
“This shows that there’s a big problem in our country, because the enforcement of the anti-human trafficking legislation could have helped to capacitate the people that surround the boarders, it will also help boost our bilateral relations with our neighbouring countries in the fight against this crime,” Matewere explained.
He said its high time government empowered the people along the country’s borders and quickly provide the national identity cards for easily checking where one is coming to and from.
Matewere said his organisation will provide resources to the police to quickly investigate the case and transport the children back to their respective homes in Mozambique.
Meanwhile, Minister of Gender Children Disability and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati has commended the public for joining government in the fight against child trafficking.
“I am very happy that people are able to realise that we have a legislation in place to protect children and that government we have the resources to protect the children as well as ensuring that justiceprevails when our children are been victimised,” said the minister.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues