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Kidnapped kids carried in UN van for organ harvesting freed in Senegal? No, video of misunderstanding in Zimbabwe

IN SHORT: A blurry video showing children in the back of a van has been posted widely on social media, with the claim it shows kids kidnapped for human trafficking in West Africa. But the video was shot in Zimbabwe in 2019 and has nothing to do with slavery or organ harvesting.

“On December 12, 2022 In Senegal, West Africa, a mob attacked a United Nations, vehicle in early and discovered it carried kidnapped children for human trafficking and organ harvesting purposes before they freed them,” reads the caption to a video circulating on social media since late September 2023.

The shaky two-minute phone video shows a crowd of people looking through the windows of a white van and trying to open its back door. Eventually the door is opened and we see crying children inside.

Senegal is a country in West Africa, on the Atlantic Ocean. The United Nations, a global organisation of governments, has a presence there.

Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery, a crime that involves using and trading in people against their will.

The US state department says that in Senegal, forced begging is the most common form of trafficking. Children are lured from their parents with the promise they will be given better education and opportunities.

The claim that the video shows kidnapped children in Senegal can also be seen here, here, here and here. But does it?


‘Children had been disappearing in the city’

A closer look at the video reveals that the van isn’t a UN vehicle. The words “SINCERE SECURITY” appear above the door. Below is an address: “33 Airdrie Road Eastlea” and a phone number with an 04 prefix.

Africa Check googled “Sincere Security 33 Airdrie Road Eastlea”. This led us to the website of a security company based in Zimbabwe with the same phone number. 

Zimbabwe is a southern African country, far from Senegal. It is bordered by South Africa to the south.

A search for “Sincere Security Zimbabwe kidnapped children” led us to several news reports on an incident in Bulawayo, a city in southwestern Zimbabwe, in April 2019.

According to the articles, a Sincere Security guard was transporting his boss’s children in the back of a company van when he parked near a local market. Vendors spotted the kids inside, surrounded the van and opened the door.

A witness told the news outlet that the crowd “shouted that children had been disappearing in the city and the security company could be a syndicate responsible for the disappearances”.

When the driver got out to explain, the mob reportedly beat him up and took him to a police station. The children’s parents later arrived at the station to clear the matter up.

The video was shot in 2019, not 2022. It shows a security company van in Zimbabwe, not a UN vehicle in Senegal. And the children inside were not being trafficked for “organ harvesting purposes”.

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