Babies separated from mothers illegally


Foreign national mothers and their babies and children are being separated when the mothers are arrested for being in South Africa illegally. This is in contravention of existing laws around children’s rights and also legislation surrounding illegal immigrants.

Special Assignment reports on women who are taken to the notorious Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp in Gauteng where they are detained while waiting to be deported to their home countries.

Life Across the Border follows the stories of two mothers who were arrested and detained at Lindela in November 2012. Both women, like many others in the centre, had been separated from their babies.

Silethumusa Nkom is one of these women. Mother to a three-month-old girl, born prematurely at 26 weeks, and an 18-month-old boy, Silethumusa was separated from her children while her desperate husband, Life, was trying to get sickly baby, Busisiwe, back to her mother. Officials at the centre refused his request to reunite mother and child.

After Special Assignment’s intervention the children were reunited with Silethumusa, but they were all deported to Zimbabwe despite doctors’ warnings that Busisiwe was too sick to travel.

Although it is against the law to separate a mother from her children, even if the mother is in the country illegally, officials from the department of Home Affairs seem to be doing this unabated.

Life Across the Border is produced by Richelle Seton-Rogers and airs on Thursday, 24 January 2013 at 21h00 on SABC 3.


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