Two South African nationals alongside their alleged Zimbabwean partner in crime were on Tuesday remanded in custody for smuggling six minors from Zimbabwe into the country, allegedly enroute to South Africa.
48-year-old Nkosana Ndebele and Stanford Ngoma (33) both from Johannesburg, South Africa were denied bail by Francistown magistrate Amantle Lungisani together with Marshall Ngwenya (33) of Kezi, Zimbabwe.
According to court papers, the trio was arrested last Thursday at a roadblock mounted just before the Matshelagabedi turnoff along the Francistown-Matsiloje road while in transit to South Africa.
Ndebele, Ngoma and Ngwenya were not asked to plead when they briefly appeared for arraignment, as the complex investigations into the matter are still at their infancy stages.
Particulars of the offense are that on December 11 2017, near Sekukwe Veterinary gate near Matshelagabedi village exposed six Zimbabwean minors to conditions which are likely to cause psychological distress.
It is alleged that the suspects intended to take the female minors aged between 3 and 18 years to South Africa where they were to introduce them to commercial sex work.
According to court papers, the accused person transported the minors without sufficient clothing, food and money thereby exposing them to conditions or circumstances which are likely to cause physical, mental and psychological distress.
Pleading with the court to remand the trio in jail, Sub-Inspector Cecilia Nchochi of Kutlwano Police Station, said investigations into the matter are likely to be complex, as they involve three countries.
“Firstly, the police would want to identify parents of the minor children in Zimbabwe and secondly establish how they were allegedly smuggled into Botswana before establishing their intended destination in South Africa,” said the prosecutor.
Furthermore, the prosecution is yet to establish the motive the female minors being smuggled to South Africa via Botswana.
She said that preliminary police investigations have established that the minors were intended to be turned into prostitutes while the 3-year-old one was to be kept in a brothel.
“We are at a stage where we are contacting Interpol to help the police with the complex investigations. And the accused persons do not have a permanent place of abode in Botswana since they were in transit to South Africa,” she pleaded.
Magistrate Lungisani ruled in favor of the prosecution and adjourned the matter to January 10, 2018 for status report.