In a rare step, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini visited Brazil recently where she rescued two babies who were born in that country’s jails by South African women incarcerated there. The children will be placed in a place of safety and will be entitled to government services.
“We are deeply concerned about the growing number of young South African women who are arrested for drug trafficking in foreign countries,” Dlamini told reporters. Just a day before she left Brazil, four more South African women were arrested at the airport in another drug bust.
Dlamini said many of the women were recruited by drug cartels operating in South Africa with sophisticated criminal networks throughout the world.
“In most instances these women are lured into the drug trafficking business by drug cartels who promise them easy money, a better life and greener pastures”.
She said by repatriating the two babies, government wants society to focus on the damage drug trafficking does to families. Figures show that since 1994, nine children were born in Brazilian prisons by South African women. Two children were born in Argentina, one in Peru, three in Venezuela, one in Honk Kong, and one in Mozambique.
It’s not an experience any mother would like to have, said Dlamini. Many countries only allow children to remain with their mothers in prisons for a limited period. In Brazil this period is limited to six months and thereafter the child must be placed in alternative care either locally or in the mother’s country of origin.
“Our obligation as government is to protect children from harm…the department renders international social services to individuals, children and families confronted with social problems ,” said Dlamini.
Arrests in SA
The Hawks say they will be intensifying their operations at land border posts and other ports of entry. Since January, 281 drug mules have been arrested at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and 80 of them have been women.
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