Thirty-eight people, including 36 ‘illegal immigrants’, appeared in the Theunissen Magistrates’ Court on Monday for violating the Immigration Act and human smuggling, Free State police said.
Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thandi Mbambo said two suspects, a driver and his assistant were charged with human smuggling and the remaining 36 were charged with violation of Immigration Act.
“[The] 36 illegal immigrants were arrested on Thursday, in Theunissen. This after the bakkie they were transported in broke down on the side of the road. The police were alerted by a concerned citizen who saw so many people cramped in a small bakkie,” said Mbambo.
“On arrival the police found two males sitting in a car and about 11 men and women sitting next to the road. Further investigation led to the discovery of other people hiding under a bridge nearby.”
Mbambo said investigations by the police’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) found that the 36 did not have valid documents to allow them to be in the country.
“[The] investigation also revealed that the group was possibly being taken to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape where they were going to be sold for cheap labour. Allegations are that they were going to look for work,” Mbambo said.
The case was postponed to August 23.
– African News Agency