South African government officials said on Wednesday that police rescued 57 Malawian children from the clutches of suspected human traffickers.
The government’s communications unit said in a statement in Johannesburg that the boys and girls, who were between the ages of 11 and 21, were discovered on Sunday when police officers pulled over a speeding truck in the northern town of Rustenburg.
Police Spokesman, Khomotso Phahlane, explained that the children had been squashed “like goods” into the windowless back of the truck.
The spokesman said that the 18 girls and 39 boys had been brought illegally from poverty-stricken parts of Malawi to South Africa, apparently with the promise of money or a job.
Phahlane said that the driver and two other adults, who were riding in the front of the vehicle, were arrested on trafficking charges.
“The children were handed over to social services.
“The rescue comes just two weeks after police freed 16 trafficked girls from a house in Johannesburg, where they had apparently been forced into prostitution,’’ he said. (dpa/NAN)