File picture

Pretoria -  The High Court in Pretoria on Monday ruled that the eight children who have been held by authorities after coming to South Africa illegally, should be repatriated back to Zimbabwe.

Judge Bill Prinsloo made his ruling after the parents of the children brought an urgent application wanting to stop the Department of Social Development from repatriating the children. The children will be repatriated on Tuesday.

The parents went to court and wanted the children, aged between two and fourteen-years-old, to be released into their custody.

"I am fortified in my view that it may not be appropriate at this stage to release the children to the respective applicants," said Prinsloo in his judgment.

"I'm of the view that the best interests of the children were taken into account when considering repatriation between South Africa and Zimbabwe."

He said the Office of the Family of Advocates made all efforts to make consultations with the applicants but the office received no co-operation from the applicants which makes it a challenge to comment on their suitability to be reunited with the children.

Prinsloo said the fact that the parents allowed the minors to travel without travel documentation in the company of strangers at night, hidden at the back of a truck from Beit Bridge to Cape Town, leaves doubt about the suitability of the applicants to simply take possession of the children.

"There is no information about the individual or individuals who cared for the children in Zimbabwe, never mind how they got to Beit Bridge or who cared from them on their way to Beit Bridge."

The children were travelling by truck on November 12, 2017, unaccompanied and without documents, from Zimbabwe to apparently join their parents for Christmas.

They have been held by the department of social development for almost four months in Rustenburg without being granted access to their parents.

According to police the children were smuggled, that's also the argument from the department of social development. The driver has told officers that he was paid R200 per child to transport them to South Africa.

The driver has been arrested and appeared in court on charges of human trafficking and contravening the immigration act.

African News Agency/ANA