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Zastron - A businessman was arrested for employing young children at a warehouse in Zastron in the Free State, a provincial official said on Monday.
The man rewarded the child workers with only a soft drink and a packet of biscuits, said labour department spokeswoman Wisane Mavasa.
The man was caught using seven children, aged between nine and 13 years, to work as packers at his warehouse last Tuesday.
“His arrest came after our department received information from concerned community members,” said Mavasa.
The children were responsible for loading stock in trucks at two warehouses he owns, at Zastron and at Sterkspruit in the Eastern Cape.
They were also made to travel in these trucks and deliver the goods at different towns in both provinces in the middle of the night.
Mavasa said it was established that the children, some whose service dated back to three years ago, had worked for the employer without getting any remuneration.
“Instead, the children were offered a 2lt Tweeza fizzy drink and a packet of biscuits after every shift,” she said.
The man appeared in the Zastron Magistrate's Court on child labour charges last Thursday.
He was not asked to plead and was released on R2000 bail pending the trial.
The children were removed from his premises and placed at the SA Police Service victim support centre for overnight care.
They were later handed over to the department of social development.
Free State chief director of provincial operations Marsha Bronkhorst, said the department would stop at nothing in its fight against law-breakers who chose to ignore the laws that protected the rights of children.
“We will ensure that the law runs its course and justice prevails for these children.” - Sapa