Biatra Muzabazi is seen with her daughter Rene, 7, and son Shane, 4, at police headquarters in Toronto on Monday. The family was reunited last week after the children were sent on vacation to Zimbabwe in April but not returned.RENE JOHNSTON/TORONTO STAR

Toronto family reunited after children held in Zimbabwe
Published on Monday December 17, 2012
Video: Kids returned to mom
Toronto Police describe how they returned two children held in Zimbabwe to their mother.
Kamila Hinkson 
Staff Reporter
Biatra Muzabazi’s daughter, Rene, didn’t want to go to Zimbabwe for the summer.

So they struck a deal: before Rene, 7, and her brother Shane, 4, left to visit relatives in April, Muzabazi promised they would be back in Canada for the beginning of the school year.

But by the end of the summer, the family the children went to visit, their father’s relatives, had enrolled them in a Zimbabwean boarding school.

They weren’t home in time for the start of the school year.

Instead, Rene and Shane spent four months at the boarding school as their mother, maternal grandmother and police and government agencies from both Canada and Zimbabwe fought to bring them home.

After a four-month ordeal, the family returned, intact, to Toronto last Thursday.

At a news conference Monday morning, Muzabazi tearfully thanked all who were involved in reuniting her with her children.

“You made it possible to be with my kids for Christmas,” she said between sobs.

As Muzabazi walked up to the podium to speak to reporters, her two children followed her — something, she explained afterwards, that now happens quite often.

“Even when I have to step out a little bit to throw away the garbage, (my daughter will) just say to me, ‘Mommy, are you coming back?’ ”

“I think she was really, really affected,” she said.

Muzabazi has sole custody of the children, who were both born in Mississauga. She is divorced and said it has been four years since she separated from her now ex-husband.

The relatives told Muzabazi in July the children wouldn’t be coming home, but she said she didn’t believe them.

When Aug. 24, the date they were supposed to return, came and went, Muzabazi realized they were serious. She went to the Toronto police for help on Sept. 1.

“I had several moments where I really didn’t think these kids were coming home,” said Det. Const. Shari Nevilles, of the 22 Division Family Violence Unit. “There were quite a few roadblocks along the way — of course, you’re dealing with foreign countries, you have to abide by their laws, you have to work within their systems,” she said.

Investigators notified Foreign Affairs, the RCMP, National Missing Children Services and Interpol. The Ontario attorney general’s office was also involved. Each agency cooperated with its counterpart in Zimbabwe to help bring the children home.

Muzabazi’s mother still lives in Zimbabwe, and though she played an “instrumental” role in the investigation, according to police, Muzabazi was eventually required to travel to her former homeland to get her children back.

The 22 Division Community Police Liaison Committee, made up of community volunteers and police service representatives, paid for the flight.

Last Tuesday, Rene and Shane were dropped off at the Canadian Embassy in Harare, the country’s capital.

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Article posted in African community, Communities, Immigration, Multiculturalism
  • BluePaper Frame

    So, this woman sends her kids to “visit” relatives in Zimbabwe (her ex- husband’s relatives), inspite of the fact that one child doesn’t want to leave. So, the mother “struck a deal”: Go and I’ll bring you back before the school starts. So, they left in April ( before the school year ended in Canada; what was the rush to send them to Zimbabwe?…)
    Also, why would she send them to her ex-s family (she separated from him 4 years ago, so the young child had never met them, and the other one probably didn’t remember them either).
    The relatives sound more responsible as they enrolled the kids in a boarding school. Perhaps because they knew the mother would not come to get her kids back?
    Now, think of the amplitude of this operation:Foreign Affairs, RCMP, National Missing Children Services, Interpol and Ontario attorney general’s office involved.
    How much money was spent on this operation?
    The 22 Division Community Police Liaison Committee, made up of community volunteers and police service representatives, paid for the flight of the … mother.
    Was she not prepared to bring her kids back?!
    Who paid for the April flight to Zimbabwe?
    Very fishy story.

  • FourFooted_Messiah

    Isn’t there a genocide against whites going on in Zimbabwe? Why is she here, and not one of the white farmers who’ve been chased off of their land?