The Thematic Committee on Human Rights (TCHR) has toured the Beitbridge Border Post to assess how accused persons and deportees are handled, amid the increasing cases of human and child smuggling.
Acting Regional Immigration Officer in Charge of the Beitbridge Border Post, Mr Nqobile Ncube told the committee that the smuggling of humans, especially that which involves children, is on the rise as a result of the slow pace of processing travel documents in the country.
He said the issue of undocumented children was rife during the school and public holidays as parents who are in South Africa tried to reunite with their children, who are undocumented.
He said cases are referred to the Department of Social Welfare, where screening is done at the reception center before the children are reunited with relatives.
“The issue here is not about human or child trafficking, but is the smuggling of persons and children because of delays in the processing of travel documents. It would appear that even those who have the documents take chances to evade the system for fear that once their documents are due for renewal, it will take a long time,” said Mr Ncube.
The legislators also wanted to know who provides food and health needs of those detained at the border, of which the port’s health facility was said to be responsible while the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has the duty of feeding those being investigated, including refugees.
Acting Chairperson of the Committee, Senator Chief Makumbe said they were confident that officials at the border post were upholding the human rights of the suspects, adding that there is need to expedite the decongestion of the post.
“Yes, we have seen how the systems work in regard to the human rights issues and we are satisfied that operations here are in line with human rights. This is critical in our democracy, but we hope that improvements at the border post would be expedited to further improve general operations,” said Senator Chief Makumbe.
Beitbridge is the busiest port of entry in Sub-Saharan Africa, but continues to manage the human and cargo traffic in a dignified manner.
Security has been beefed up to ensure that criminals are flushed out and give travellers a safe entry or exit.