A 33-year-old driver was arrested by police in Mpumalanga after 23 foreign nationals - Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals - believed to have been trafficked into South Africa were found his vehicle.
On Monday, an intelligence-driven “disruptive operation” was conducted by the South African Police Service (SAPS) Nelspruit-based crime intelligence and highway patrol units along the N4 and R38 roads.
Spokesperson for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, also known as the Hawks, Captain Dineo Sekgotodi said the police operation followed information that was received from “a reliable source” about a white Toyota Quantum transporting passengers suspected to be undocumented foreign nationals.
The Toyota Quantum taxi was spotted by police on the R38 Road, in the area of Kaapmuiden.
“The driver, aged, was interviewed to determine the origins of the passengers. The driver informed the police that he was instructed to pick people from the road to Delmas,” said Sekgotodi.
The Hawks unit was summoned to the scene and took over the investigation.
“Preliminarily investigation reveal that 23 foreign nationals, aged between 14 and 46 years, were being transported. Of the 23 foreign nationals, 14 are Pakistani and nine are Bangladeshi nationals. Among the group were two minors, aged 14 and 17-years-old,” said Sekgotodi.
“The driver of the Toyota Quantum was arrested on charges of contravening the Trafficking in Persons Act 7 of 2013, and aiding and abetting.”
Sekgotodi said it was also discovered that some passengers had their passports, but others did not have the documents.
“Those available passports were unstamped,” according to the Hawks.
“All suspects were detained pending their first court appearance at Barberton District Court on Wednesday. More arrests are imminent. Investigation continues.”
In October, IOL reported that a mother and her son had appeared before the Springs Magistrate’s Court, in Gauteng, facing charges including trafficking in persons, keeping a safe house, assisting illegal immigrants evade the law, as well as illegal possession of ammunition.
The mother, Dumazile Nkosi is aged 51, and the son Thandoluhle Nkosi is aged 25.
The two were summoned to appear in court as additional suspects in an ongoing trafficking in persons case being investigated the Hawks based in Vaal Rand.
“The pair were added in the ongoing investigation as they were allegedly keeping and leasing premises where, in February 2022, 47 foreign nationals were kept, as well as failure to report activities related to trafficking in persons,” Hawks spokesperson in Gauteng, Colonel Katlego Mogale said at the time.