Brothers’ Brazil ordeal

2014-11-07 00:00

TWO KwaZulu-Natal brothers, aged seven and 13, survived almost five months on the streets of São Paolo, Brazil, after their mother was arrested as a drug mule in Portugal in December.

The boys landed at O.R. Tambo Airport yesterday morning with social workers on hand to take them to a hotel and start immediate counselling.

The boys reportedly accompanied their mother to Brazil six years ago while on holi­day and she liked it so much that she decided to stay, working as a hair dresser before she allegedly started to smuggle drugs. She was arrested in Portugal in December 2013.

Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini said a Brazilian had found the boys on the streets of São Paolo in May and took them to the South African embassy.

Dalmini said his department arranged with social workers in São Paolo to take the two brothers to a place of safety before starting the five-month-long repatriation process.The younger boy only speaks Portuguese while his older brother speaks English as well, the minister.

“They went to school in Brazil. We are taking them to their legal guardian in KwaZulu-Natal.

“We want to place them in a school next year and reintegrate them with their community as soon as possible. We do not know where the children’s father is.”

Spokesperson for his department Lumka Olifant said they had contacted the mother in the Portuguese prison after her boys were moved to a place of safety in May.

“She had to select a guardian in South African. This guardian has agreed and had to be assessed by the department.”

In South Africa, social workers checked with Home Affairs that the boys and their mother were indeed South African citizens.

Dlamini said it was the first time in five years that his department had to repatriate homeless South African children. “Usually the mothers are imprisoned. It is then easier to return the children to SA.”

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