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The defence in the bail hearing of seven Chinese nationals arrested last year for alleged human trafficking and violation of the country’s labour laws told the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court this week that the case against them was “flawed and non-existent”.
Lawyer, Jan Christophe Kruger from David H Botha, Du Plessis & Kruger Incorporated, who represents six of the seven accused submitted that the police rushed to the scene and arrested the accused because they were intent on a quick prosecution.
The seven suspects, four males and three females, were arrested on 12 November in a joint operation by the Department of Employment and Labour’s Inspection and Enforcement Services Gauteng branch, the South African Police Services (SAPS), Home Affairs, and the Hawks, following a tip-off.
Kruger told the Court that the Chinese nationals were in South Africa to work just like the Malawian nationals and that they deserved to be granted bail as they were not a flight risk.
Details of the alleged human trafficking
The seven Chinese nationals are alleged to have illegally brought 91 Malawian nationals into South Africa using a middleman and subjecting them to forced labour.
During the blitz 91 Malawian nationals were found in the factory, 37 of them were children. The Court also heard that the Malawians working in the factory were transported to South Africa in containers.
The accused in the matter are Kevin Tsao, a naturalised South African, Chen Hui, Qin Li, Jiaqing Zhou, Ma Biao, Dai Junying and Zhang Zhilian.
The seventh accused, Zhilian, has since terminated the services of Kruger and appointed Mr Louw as her lawyer.
The accused were operating a factory called Beautiful City (Pty) Ltd at Village Deep in Johannesburg.
Violating labour laws
It was alleged that minor children were employed at the factory and also that the company was violating a range of labour laws.
In an affidavit submitted by the SAPS/Hawks in Court, the authorities intend to charge the accused with schedule six offence. The accused will face charges ranging from human trafficking, debt bondage, kidnapping and pointing of a firearm.
Warrant Officer Lulama Kona testified during the bail hearing that CCTV footage confiscated during a joint raid was not ready to be presented in Court as evidence.
The bail hearing will continue next Wednesday. The accused have been remanded in custody.
– African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Naomi Mackay