The Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday relaxed the bail conditions for one of the seven Chinese nationals accused of trafficking 91 Malawian nationals to South Africa and forcing them to work in their factory.
According to the Department of Employment and Labour, one of the accused, Kevin Tsao, was granted allowance by the court to fulfill his business obligations during the week and given permission to leave his residential complex without hindrance.
Another accused, Dai Junying, was denied amendments to her bail conditions because she failed to submit corroborative evidence, the department said.
Tsoa, Jungying and their co-accused – Chen Hui, Qin Li, Jiaqing Zhou, Ma Biao, and Zhang Zhilian – were granted bail on 24 June following a drawn-out hearing.
News24 previously reported the accused were initially denied bail on 20 March this year but then brought a fresh application based on new facts.
They were arrested for allegedly running an illegal enterprise called Beautiful City Pty Ltd in Village Deep, Johannesburg, where it is claimed they were trafficking illegal immigrants into South Africa and subjecting them to forced labour.
An operation was conducted by department’s Inspection and Enforcement Services branch in Gauteng together with the police, Department of Home Affairs and Hawks late last year which led to the arrest of the seven Chinese nationals.
During the operation, 91 Malawian nationals were allegedly found in the factory, 37 of them children, labour department spokesperson Teboho Thejane said.
During the bail hearing the court heard the Malawians working in the Chinese factory were transported to South Africa in 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 Chinese factory was allegedly processing the inner cotton of blankets using recycled clothing,” the department said at the time.
“It is alleged that the company’s operations were carried out behind closed high steel gates with access strictly controlled by employers. Workers were also allegedly exposed to appalling working conditions without adhering to occupational health and safety.”