Chinese nationals who were arrested for human trafficking will hear the fate of their bail application in two weeks’ time, in a case where they stand accused of trafficking 91 Malawians, including 37 children.
Kevin Tsao, Chen Hui, Qin Li, Jiaqing Zhou, Ma Biao, Dai Junying, and Zhang Zhilian appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
The accused were allegedly operating a factory called Beautiful City Pty Ltd in Village Deep in Johannesburg before they were arrested on 12 November 2019.
A joint operation by the Department of Employment and Labour’s Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) branch in Gauteng, the police, the Department of Home Affairs and the Hawks led to the arrests. Ninety-one Malawian nationals were found in the factory, including 37 children.
The Malawians were allegedly brought to South Africa by a middleman known as “The Transporter”, who is still at large.
Department of Labour spokesperson Teboho Thejane said Magistrate Basimane Molwana said the case is a complex one that requires time to make a decision.
Thejane said it also emerged in court on Tuesday that the Department of Home Affairs would serve papers on six of the accused for the cancellation of their visas.
A witness representing the Department of Home Affairs, Regan Kistan, testified last month that the accused had violated their visa applications.
The accused were found to have entered South Africa through the use of various documents, ranging from visitors’ visas to intra-company transfer permits and retirement visas.
The Department of Employment and Labour has also submitted a statement to court requesting that charges involving the alleged contravention of labour laws be added.
The department is demanding R7 million from the accused for allegedly violating the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, contravening the Unemployment Insurance Act and the Unemployment Insurance Contribution Act, as well as contravening the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the National Minimum Wage Act.
Molwana is expected to deliver judgment in the bail hearing on 20 March.