Cape Town - An alleged human-trafficking kingpin and 42 suspected illegal immigrants are expected to appear in the Ermelo Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
The charges relate to human trafficking and contravention of the Immigration Act.
According to Mpumalanga provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala, three minibuses en route to Durban were intercepted along the R33 Road near Lothair on Wednesday morning.
“According to the report, police at Lothair received information through the intelligence structure of the police in the province about three minibuses which were trafficking illegal immigrants from the country of Mozambique and were heading to Durban (KZN Province).
“The information further outlined that they were going to pass through R33 near Lothair. The details were then followed up whereby an operation was conducted accordingly. Around 8.30am police conducted stop-and-searches at Carolina-Amsterdam Road (R33) and by 9.30am three minibuses with passengers emerged, fitting the description as per information provided,” Mohlala said.
He said the drivers of the vehicles were halted and police conducted a search that led to the discovery of 42 occupants who had no form of legal documentation to be in the country.
Officials established that the 32 men and 10 women had not paid for their trip and later, as officials further investigated, it was discovered someone had funded the mission for the occupants to be moved to Durban, possibly to work as labourers.
“On the same day, a 39-year-old man believed to be the kingpin into the underworld of human trafficking has since been arrested and charged by the police at Lothair (in Gert Sibande District).
“Police are working in partnership with their counterparts from the Department of Home Affairs in this case and the investigation will also look into how the 42 entered the country as well as possibilities of others immigrating into the country illegally,” Mohlala said.
Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela said the police will not back down or tolerate lawlessness no matter what, and thanked communities for their unwavering support.