The South African Home Affairs (Interior) Department has welcomed the arrest of three people in Rustenburg in North West Province on charges of human trafficking, following the rescue of 57 Malawian children and young adults by the police over the weekend.

The three persons, who carried no identity document, were arrested after the truck they were driving in was stopped by two police constables who were on routine patrol duty. On inspection, 57 people, including children, from Malawi, were found in the truck.

The department said in a statement here Wednesday that the vigilance of the South African Police Service (SAPS) was commendable.

“The documentation of children may be perceived by some as unimportant and inconvenient. However, it plays a critical part in giving children identity and the rights that come with it. Those who are privy to the modus operandi in modern slavery and human trafficking know that documentation, or lack thereof, is where exploitation begins,” the department added.

“Birth certificates that share with officials the legal guardianship of a child should not be undermined. They play a critical role in eliminating possibilities for our ports of entry to be negligent or implicit in child trafficking.”

The Home Affairs Department said it would continue to work relentlessly with other law enforcement authorities in combating human trafficking and other contravention of South Africa’s immigration law.

Several measures to improve the management of movement into and out of the country were recently announced, including the establishment of a Border Management Agency and the Green Paper on International Migration, which is expected to lead to the development of a more comprehensive policy.

The department said as it modernized its systems and processes, it would continue to support the improvement of security and safety of citizens and other nationals in the country.