RUSTENBURG, Seven Chinese nationals accused of violating South Africa’s labour laws had also breached the country’s immigration laws, the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court heard on Wednesday.

Regan Kistan, an administrative clerk with the department of home affairs, made the statement while testified during the bail applications of the seven.

He said that in terms of the Immigration Act (Section 43), anyone violating the terms and conditions of his or her status nullified the visa, adding that any person or employer who hired an illegal foreigner knowingly was acting in violation of the country’s immigration law.

Kevin Tsao, Chen Hui, Qin Li, Jiaqing Zhou, Ma Biao, Dai Junying, and Zhang Zhilian were found to have entered South Africa using various documents ranging from visitor’s visas to intra-company transfer permits and retirement visas.

They were operating a factory called Beautiful City (Pty) Ltd located at Village Deep in Johannesburg.

The group was arrested on November 12, 2019 in a joint operation conducted by the department of employment and labour’s inspection and enforcement services together with the South African Police Services, home affairs and the Hawks.

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

Ninety-one Malawian nationals were found in the factory, 37 of them children.

The court heard that the Malawians working in the factory were transported to South Africa using containers.

They were alleged to have been ferried by a middleman known as the transporter, who was still on the run.

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

The department of employment and labour has since submitted a statement requesting additional charges of contravention of labour laws be added to the charge sheet.

The department further demanded R7-million owed by the accused for violation of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, contravening the Unemployment Insurance Act, the Unemployment Insurance Contribution Act, contravening the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the National Minimum Wage Act.

Magistrate Basimane Molwana postponed the matter to March 3 for the bail hearing to continue.

Source: African News Agency