South Africa: Bail Application of Chinese Nationals Heard in Johannesburg

13 December 2019

The bail application of the seven Chinese nationals, who were busted recently for operating an illegal factory in Johannesburg, started on Wednesday in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court.

The accused were also arrested for the trafficking of illegal immigrants as well as subjecting them to forced labour.

The accused are Kevin Tsao (naturalised South African), Chen Hui, Qin Li, Jiaqing Zhou, Zhang Zhilian, Ma Biao, and Dai Junying.

The 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 (IES) branch in Gauteng together with the South African Police Services (SAPS), Home Affairs and the Hawks Unit.

The arrests followed a tip-off that the Chinese nationals were allegedly involved in human trafficking and subjecting them to forced labour.

The accused were arrested following a department's joint operation with SAPS and Hawks at the premises of a company called Beautiful City Pty Ltd located at Village Deep in Johannesburg.

During the raid minor children were found to have been employed at the factory, and that the employer was violating labour laws ranging from the National Minimum Wage (NMW), Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (Coida), the Unemployment Insurance Act (UI Act) and the Unemployment Insurance Contributions Act (UICA).

In an affidavit submitted by the SAPS/Hawks in Court, the authorities intend to charge the accused with schedule offence(s).

The accused will face charges of human trafficking, debt bondage, kidnapping and pointing of a firearm.

It emerged in Court that of the 91 Malawian nationals employed in the factory who were found during the raid, 37 of them were children.

The Court also heard that the Malawians working in the factory were transported to South Africa through containers.

Also contained in the affidavit submitted by the SAPS/Hawks was that:

All foreigners found at the premises had no documentation to be in South Africa.

Workers were threatened with firearms and kept in the premises against their will.

Workers were kept behind high walls.

Workers earning R6.50 per hour, which was below the National Minimum Wage, not contributing to the Unemployment Insurance Fund and Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases fund, and the premises were not complying to Occupational Health and Safety

Workers were subjected to beatings and had no access to ablution facilities.

Accused number one (Tsao) has been accused of lying under oath in his affidavit for claiming that he owned no pistol.

It has since emerged that he applied for a legal firearm which was issued in 2018.

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