‘Do you know that your child is at the airport?’ Home affairs spokesman catches man in the act


Mayihlome tweeted the following:

Homes Affairs spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete had his eyes opened after he spent a morning working at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport‚ where he witnessed a man try to illegally take two children out of the country.

Tshwete said the man arrived at the airport with the two children and a woman he claimed was his wife on Wednesday.

He tweeted about his experiences and later told TimesLIVE about what he had discovered.

“He had a marriage certificate showing she was his wife‚ and he said they were going to west Africa. But when we checked the system‚ it showed that the mother was somebody else‚ not the person standing in front of us.

“We called the wife and said‚ ‘Do you know that your child is at the airport?’ She said no‚” said Tshwete.

This was the case with both children‚ who had different mothers.

He said‚ while it was uncertain whether this was human trafficking‚ such cases were “tricky”.

“We are trying to handle issues like this‚ where people are leaving [the country] with children they have no legal authority to leave with‚” said Tshwete.

He said he was also shocked by the number of people being held at the airport for using fake documentation.

“Over the last two days we have had 35 cases‚ comprising fake permits‚ fake visas and that kind of thing. These are people who think we have a weak system and are trying to take advantage of it. It’s cases of illegal immigration.”

He said most of the cases were from Pakistan‚ Bangladesh and Nepal‚ as well as from Nigeria and Ghana. Nineteen of those cases were from Wednesday‚ and this before midday.

“If we find them‚ we deport them immediately. This is why the minister [of home affairs‚ Malusi Gigaba] said we need to push capacity at home affairs‚ especially at the points of entry. This is an everyday occurrence for the people who work here‚ dealing with child trafficking‚ fraudulent documents and all kinds of illegal chance-takers.

“You are not doing a good service to the country if you allow people to come in without checks and balances. You can’t overlook safety‚ overlook threats and assume that everybody loves you‚” he said.

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