Bail hearing of seven Chinese nationals arrested for alleged human trafficking and violation of labour laws to continue

The defence in the bail hearing of the matter of seven Chinese nationals who were arrested last year for alleged human trafficking and violation of the country’s labour laws told the Johannesburg Magistrates Court this week that the case against them was flawed and non-existent”.

Lawyer, Jan Christophe Kruger from David H Botha, Du Plessis & Kruger Incorporated, who represents six of the seven accused submitted that the police rushed to the scene and arrested the accused because they were intent of a quick prosecution. He told the Court that the Chinese nationals were in South Africa to work just like the Malawian nationals.

Kruger argued that the Chinese nationals deserved to be granted bail as they were not a flight risk.

The seven Chinese nationals are alleged to have illegally brought 91 Malawian nationals into South Africa using a middleman and subjecting them to forced labour.

The accused in the matter are: Kevin Tsao (naturalised South African), Chen Hui, Qin Li, Jiaqing Zhou, Ma Biao, Dai Junying, and Zhang Zhilian.

The seventh accused (Zhilian) has since terminated the mandate of Kruger and secured her lawyer in Mr Louw.

The accused were operating a factory called Beautiful City (Pty) Ltd located at Village Deep in Johannesburg. During the raid minor children were found to be employed at the factory, and that the employer was violating the suite of labour legislation ranging from National Minimum Wage (NMW), Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (Coida), the Unemployment Insurance Act (UI Act) and Unemployment Insurance Contributions Act (UICA).

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

Warrant Officer Ms Lulama Kona testified during the bail hearing in the matter of seven Chinese nationals who were busted for operating a factory allegedly involved in the trafficking of illegal immigrants and subjecting them to forced labour, that a CCTV footage confiscated during a joint raid was not ready to be presented in Court as evidence.

The seven Chinese nationals – four males and three females were arrested on November 12 in a joint operation by the Department of Employment and Labour’s Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) branch in Gauteng together with the South African Police Services (SAPS), Home Affairs, and the Hawks Unit. 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.

During the blitz 91 Malawian nationals were found in the factory, 37 of them were children. The Court also heard that the Malawians working in the factory were transported to South Africa through 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.

The bail hearing will continue on 29 January 2020. The accused have been remanded in custody.

Source: Department of Labour