Zimbabwe Situation

The Limpopo River is the second largest river in South Africa and flows to the Indian Ocean, creating a border with crisis stricken Zimbabwe. Whilst the river has viciously rushing water blending with the sounds of birds and baboons, it is also infested with vicious crocodiles, water snakes and equally dangerous hippopotami.

Whilst the world focused it's attention on the 2010 World Cup celebrations in neighbouring South Africa, it is into that country that hundreds of Zimbabweans on a daily basis make the treacherous journey across the river to what they perceive to be a better life ahead and to escape the situation in Zimbabwe.

Yet is is not just wildlife that makes the journey so dangerous, but the involvement of people smugglers the "malume". These people claim to offer safe passage across the river, however in reality strip their victims bare often demanding extra cash and possessions half way across the river.

Those wishing to illegally cross into South Africa hire our canoes for R200 and we tell them to leave them on the other side of the Limpopo." Stated one malume, "Some lucky ones manage to cross, but the unfortunate ones are devoured by the blood-thirsty reptiles and equally dangerous hippopotami"

And for those who do make it more horrors await with bandits prowling the banks of the river in search of victims who are often raped, robbed and killed.

For those who survive any documentation they may be carrying is also destroyed. It is estimated that three million people to date have faced this hazardous situation.

On such teenager stated "I heard that if you went to South Africa you can buy yourself a car after just three months because there is a lot of money there. My parents couldn't pay my school and exam fees so I decided to go to South Africa with my friends because there is nothing to do here."


Zimbabwe Situation

Zimbabwe Situation

Zimbabwe Situation

Zimbabwe Situation



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Zimbabwe Situation

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In order to avoid the dangers of the river, he paid a boatman to take him and his friends across. "When we were in the middle of the river, he demanded more money. He threatened to drown us in the river. We were so frightened, we gave him the money." But even on safe landing on South African soil, the dangers were still immense with a pride of lions attacking the group, forcing them to climb trees to stay alive and having to remain there for two days. Even for those who do survive the journey, being under age and without documentation many of these young people are at risk of trafficking, exploitation, prostitution and drug dealing. Organisations such as Plan work to try and prevent young people leaving Zimbabwe, for however bad things are there, at least they live legally within their own communities. Those who do leave effectively cease to exist and are at the mercy of others for the rest of their lives


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