A Zimbabwean mother has engaged human rights lawyers in her bid to facilitate the return of her three-year-old daughter who was trafficked to South Africa allegedly by her father’s relatives.
Charlene Gugulethu Moyo’s child has been missing since December and the police allegedly initially refused to open a docket against the perpetrators.
After the intervention of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), the police have initiated investigations and are trying to engage Interpol to track the minor. The ZLHR said in a statement:
The three-year-old baby was separated from her mother Charlene Gugulethu Moyo in December 2022 after her grandmother Clara Ndlovu asked Moyo to allow her grandchild to visit her home in Bulawayo and spend time with her during the festive season with the agreement that the child would be returned home towards the opening of schools in January 2023.
Moyo’s child was not returned and instead, the mother received a picture from some of Ndlovu’s relatives with information that the child was enjoying the festive season in South Africa.
Moyo says her daughter did not have any travel documents such as a passport to allow entry into South Africa.
She added that she never signed an affidavit consenting to her child leaving the country.
A report was made at Pumula Police Station where Moyo was referred to the Children’s Court with advice to apply for custody of her minor child.
However, Ndlovu had travelled to her rural home in Buhera in Manicaland province and the service of summons for the grandmother to appear in court could not be effected.
As a result, the matter was never heard in court.
On 1 February 2023, ZLHR lawyer Prisca Dube engaged the police at Pumula Police Station to verify why they had refused to open a docket for the contravention of the Trafficking in Persons Act.
The following day, Dube told police officers at Pumula Police Station that in terms of the Trafficking in Persons Act, an offence had been committed and thus a docket should be opened to enable the minor child to be brought back to Zimbabwe.
On 3 February 2023, police officers advised Dube that investigations were now underway.
The father of the minor child was reportedly demanding that the mother should pay a certain cross-border driver ZAR1 000 to facilitate the return of her daughter.
On 13 February 2023, the human rights lawyer wrote a letter to the Officer-in-Charge of Pumula Police Station only identified as Inspector Madlambe asking to be furnished with a progress report on the child trafficking case.
Three days later ZRP officers contacted Dube requesting to be furnished with the minor child’s birth certificate and her clear photograph, to be sent to Interpol.