Matours International Coach denies involvement in human smuggling, trafficking

Matours International Coach Services has refuted Carte Blanche allegations that it is involved in human smuggling and trafficking.

The rebuttal follows an allegation Carte Blanche – a South African investigative journalism television series that airs on M-Net – made through its email sent to the company on 20 March 2024.

In the communication to Matours International Coach, Graham Coetzer, a journalist for the television program who was producing an insert on the smuggling and trafficking of foreign nationals into South Africa, alleged that the coach service is engaged in human smuggling and trafficking into South Africa.

Coetzer alleged that a certain man identified as Josiah Soko had agreed with someone to arrange for the transport of a young child from Malawi to South Africa.

“Josiah phoned a transporter named Angela from his phone and allowed the man to speak to her and arrange for the child to be smuggled to South Africa. Although there was no real child the allegation is therefore that Matours and Josiah Soko would have been complicit in arranging for a young child to be brought across South African borders illegally,” he alleged.

But in an interview on Wednesday, Matuors International Coach Public Relations Associate, Bright Kampaundi, dismissed the allegations, stating that they are meant to tarnish the image of the company.

Kampaundi: They just want to tarnish our image

“Carte Branch contacted our office and sent an email to our Public Relations office on this subject matter in what it called “right to reply” in which we responded accordingly.  Surprisingly no content from our reply has been featured in their article which makes us wonder about the intent of the documentary and a belief that they already had an angle of their story despite having an official response from Matours,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.

“Just as we communicated to Graham Coetzer of Carte Blanche on 21st March 2024, we reiterate that Matours International Coach Services is not involved in neither Human Trafficking nor Human Smuggling. The reporter working undercover was told by our agent Soko that Matours do not take people without travelling document which is a company policy hence referred him to someone,” added Kampaundi.

Human smuggling is defined as securing or aiding the illegal entry of a person into a state in which they are not a national or permanent resident, for financial or other material benefit. It also means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for profit.

Kampaundi reiterated that the company is not involved in aiding illegal entry of any form.

“As a legitimate corporate entity, our core business is to provide transport service for goods and passengers in compliance with laws and regulations in all the four countries where our coaches pass through either as a departure, transit route or a destination. All passengers on our coaches do have passports or travel documents and present themselves before the immigration officials at the port of entry for formalities. One of our internal policies enforces that if anyone is refused entry on the reasons best known to the immigration at a port of entry such a person remains at the border and is not allowed to board back into the coach,” he said.

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