Durban - Nineteen foreign nationals, 14 of which are from Bangladeshi, while five are from Pakistan, appeared in the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court this week for contravention of the Immigration Act.
Another suspect, Juliah Isangs, was also arrested together with the 19 suspects but will appear in a separate case, according to Hawks spokesperson Captain Dineo Segkotodi.
Sixteen of the suspects were identified as: Sopnil Sopnil, 22, Arifuzzamans Arifu, 28, Shariu Ilah Shafiulla, 38, Muhammed Bilal, 34, Islen Ferhadul, 24, Mahammed Ali, 34, Bifoy Rayhanul Infaque, 29, Uddio Mohin, 25, Addin Giyas, 44, Morud MD, 27, Islam Saiful, 35, Hossan Saddam, 32, Mohammed Abdullah, 21, Sharaz Ahmed, 34, Shanzol Dulah Hossain, 45 and Mahammed Alfan, 28.
The names of the other suspects were not captured by police.
It is understood that none of the 19 suspects speak English.
Sekgotodi said Isangs was charged under the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Person Act, Act no. 7 of 2013.
Isangs acted as the caretaker of the group, she said.
The suspects were arrested at a house in Kamagugu, Mbombela.
“On arrival at the address, the gate was locked. The team managed to gain entry into the property. They found 19 males packed into a three-bedroomed house without furniture.
“Preliminary investigation established that 14 of those detained were Bangladeshi’s and five were Pakistanis. Police recovered 18 passports, 27 cellphones, cellphones chargers. The items were packaged together and kept by the caretaker.
“The suspects, who could not communicate in English, had passports that were not stamped by South African immigration,” Sekgotodi said.
South Africa seems to have been attracting a vast number of immigrants of late, with 22 Afghan nationals making headlines as well.
Government, as well as a number of other civil organisations have expressed their concern over granting the 22 Afghani nationals asylum in South Africa.
Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, opposed the application entry of asylum seekers into the country.
The department said on February 15, 2023 they received a letter from a firm of attorneys representing unnamed Afghan nationals demanding that asylum transit visas be issued to those unnamed individuals at Beitbridge border port of entry from Zimbabwe.
It is believed that the Afghan nationals were also in the company of US citizens.
Immigrations refused them entry and their lawyer went to the Pretoria High Court to file papers in favour of the asylum transit visas.
The court issued an interim order allowing them to be issued with asylum transit visas.
ATM leader Vuyi Zungula said this was a security risk.