The trial of seven Chinese nationals charged with human trafficking and child labour was today postponed to next year due to the non-availability of defence witnesses.
Counsel for the accused J. Kruger today told the Johannesburg High Court (South Gauteng High Court) that the witnesses lined up by the defence were in Malawi and not available.
The accused in the trial are Kevin Tsao Shu-Uei, Chen Hui, Qin Li, Jiaqing Zhou, Ma Biao, Dai Junying, and Zhang Zhilian. The accused are facing schedule six offences.
During the last appearance on 21 September 2023, the Court delivered a judgment on the Section 66 application filed by the State against accused number two Chen Hui. The bail (R55 000) for the accused was forfeited by the State after Chen Hui tried to flee the country through Mozambique when he was arrested at the Lebombo border post. The Court has since heard that he also had a previous criminal record.
The Chinese nationals were arrested following a joint operation carried out at the premises of a company called Beautiful City Pty Ltd located at Village Deep in Johannesburg. The 12 November 2019 joint operation was carried out by the Department of Employment and Labour's Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) branch together with the South African Police Services (SAPS)/ Hawks Unit and the Department of Home Affairs.
The joint operation uncovered illegal immigrants some of whom were minors who are alleged to have been around the age of 15 at the time being subjected to horror working conditions and kept in the locked premises. Most of the migrants were alleged to be from Malawi and Zimbabwe.
The accused are facing counts of human trafficking, contravention of the Immigration Act, kidnapping, pointing a firearm, debt bondage, benefitting from the services of a victim of trafficking, conduct that facilitates trafficking, illegally assisting person(s) to remain in South Africa, and failure to comply with duties of an employer.
Chen Hui (accused number 2) and Zhang Zhilian (accused number 7) are in custody for violating their bail conditions. The other five accused are out on bail.
The matter was first heard in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court during bail hearing and was later transferred to the Johannesburg High Court.
The trial has been remanded to 08 April 2024.
For more information, contact:
Director: Media Liaison
Cell: +27 66 301 4645/ Petunia.Lessing@labour.gov.za
Issued by: Department of Employment and Labour
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