More charges for human trafficking suspects

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The seven Chinese nationals arrested last year for alleged human trafficking and violation of South Africa’s labour laws will learn the outcome of their bail application in two weeks.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Department of Employment and Labour said the outcome will be made after Magistrate Basimane Molwana heard the bail hearing at the Johannesburg Magistrate Court.

Kevin Tsao, Chen Hui, Qin Li, Jiaqing Zhou, Ma Biao, Dai Junying, and Zhang Zhilian are accused of illegally operating a factory – Beautiful City Pty Ltd – in Village Deep in Johannesburg.

The seven Chinese nationals were arrested on 12 November 2019 in a joint operation conducted by the Department’s Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) in conjunction with the police, Home Affairs and the Hawks.

“The arrests followed a tip-off that the Chinese nationals were allegedly involved in the trafficking of illegal immigrants and subjecting them to forced labour,” said Department spokesperson Tebogo Thejane.

During the blitz, 91 Malawian nationals were found in the factory, 37 of whom were children.

“The Court has since heard that the Malawians working in the factory were transported to South Africa using containers. The Malawians are alleged to have been brought to South Africa by a middleman known as 'the transporter' who is still on the run,” said the department.

In an affidavit submitted by the SAPS and the Hawks in Court, the authorities intend to charge the accused with schedule six offences. The accused will face charges ranging from human trafficking, debt bondage, kidnapping and pointing of a firearm.

It emerged in Court that the Department of Home Affairs was in the process of serving papers to the six of the accused cancelling their visas, said Thejane.

Thejane said the department has also submitted a statement requesting the additional charges, including those of contravention of labour laws. 

“The department is demanding R7-million owed by the accused for violating the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, contravening the Unemployment Insurance Act, the Unemployment Insurance Contribution Act, contravening the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the National Minimum Wage Act,” he said. –