PRETORIA - Eight Zimbabwean children aged between two and 14 are set to be repatriated on Tuesday.
Bid to block the repatriation of eight Zimbabwean children dismissed https://t.co/LNRBVKvTn1— eNCA (@eNCA) March 5, 2018
The North Gauteng High Court on Monday dismissed an urgent application from eight adults who claimed to be their parents.
The Department of Social Development said the judgment was a victory for those acting in the best interests of children.
Spokesperson for The Dept of Social Development Lumka Oliphant speaks to Erin Bates of @eNCA on #ZimChildren case and our hope for relief in repatriating these children back into the care of the Zimbabwean govt. @GovernmentZA @HomeAffairsSA @ermbates pic.twitter.com/oCkL1DOo5n— Social Development (@The_DSD) March 2, 2018
On Monday evening, Judge Bill Prinsloo ruled the department was acting in the best interests of the children.
“I am fortified in my view that it may not be appropriate at this stage to release the children to the respective applicants,” Prinsloo said.
The parents had sought to block the transfer of the children from South Africa back to Zimbabwe.
"How did these children, my lord, crawl on the river to Beitbridge? [How did these children] Sit in a truck, with how many? Twenty other strangers or fifteen other adult strangers, from Beitbridge en route to Cape Town," asked the Social Development Minister’s Lawyer Naome Manaka.
The applicant's lawyer accused the department of acting "maliciously" toward the ostensible parents.
#ZimChildren Lumka Oliphant for @The_DSD has told eNCA that "the only people we need to speak to is the government on the other side" regarding eight Zimbabwean children who have been held in South Africa for over three months, and have not seen their parents more than once.— Erin Bates (@ermbates) February 22, 2018
He also raised concerns about who would receive the children in Zimbabwe.
However, a report from the Office of the Child Advocate flagged issues, including possible child trafficking.
The contents of the report are so sensitive the court ruled they cannot be disclosed, to protect the minors mentioned.
The spokesperson for the Minister of Social Development promised the children would be safe.
"The court has decided that the children must be given to the Zimbabwean authorities," Social Development Department Spokesperson Lumka Oliphant said.
The children will fly to Harare, Zimbabwe, on Tuesday.