Bail hearing of Chinese nationals accused of human trafficking postponed
RUSTENBURG - The bail hearing of seven Chinese nationals accused of human trafficking and violating South Africa's labour laws will be heard next week, the department of employment and labour said on Wednesday.
Departmental spokesperson, Teboho Thejane said the hearing at the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court was postponed on Monday to June 15 after the prosecutor could not attend court due to illness.
Kevin Tsao, Chen Hui, Qin Li, Jiaqing Zhou, Ma Biao, Dai Junying, and Zhang Zhilian are applying for bail on new grounds.
They were arrested in November 2019 for allegedly running an illegal enterprise called Beautiful City Pty Ltd at Village Deep in Johannesburg.
The suspects were arrested followed a tip-off that Chinese nationals were allegedly involved in the trafficking of illegal immigrants into South Africa, and were subjecting the immigrants to forced labour. At least 91 Malawian nationals were found in the factory when it was raided, 37 of them were children.
During the bail hearing, the court heard that the Malawians working in the Chinese factory were transported to South Africa using containers.
The Malawians were alleged to have been brought to South Africa by a middleman known as “the transporter” who was still on the run.
The Chinese factory was allegedly processing the inner cotton of blankets using recycled clothing. It is alleged that the company’s operations were carried out behind high steel gates with access strictly controlled by employers.
Workers were also allegedly exposed to appalling working conditions, with no regard given to occupational health and safety standards.
The accused are facing charges including human trafficking, debt bondage, kidnapping and pointing of a firearm.
The department of employment and labour has joined the matter to push for the prosecution of the accused for violating South Africa’s labour laws.