Seven accused of human trafficking granted bail
The Johannesburg magistrate's court on Wednesday granted bail to seven people who were arrested last November for alleged human trafficking and violation of the country's labour laws in a long-drawn our bail hearing.
The four men and three women were arrested on November 12 last year in a joint operation conducted by the employment and labour department's inspection and enforcement services branch in Gauteng together with police, the department of home affairs and the Hawks.
They were arrested for allegedly running an illegal enterprise called Beautiful City Pty Ltd located at Village Deep in Johannesburg.
Their arrests followed a tip-off that they were allegedly involved in the trafficking of illegal immigrants into SA and subjecting them to forced labour.
During the operation, 91 Malawian nationals were found in the factory, 37 of them were children.
The seven accused in the matter - Kevin Tsao, Chen Hui, Qin Li, Jiaqing Zhou, Ma Biao, Dai Junying, and Zhang Zhilian – first filed for bail in November. On March 20, they were denied bail.
In May, the defence launched a new bail application based on new facts.
Magistrate Basimane Molwana held that while the advent of Covid-19 was not a new ground to lodge bail on new facts, he ruled that the lockdown was a new ground to apply for bail.
Tsao, a naturalised South African, was on Wednesday granted bail of R70,000. Hui was granted bail of R55,000, while the five others were granted bail of R30,000 each.
Tsao's strict bail conditions only allow him to leave his place of residence on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. All the other accused are expected to be granted a place of dwelling by Tsao.
"They are not allowed any movement beyond their complex. The are only allowed movement out of their premises only to sign at the Cleveland Police Station between 6am and 6pm," said the department of employment and labour.
The accused will face charges ranging from human trafficking, violation of the Immigration Act, debt bondage, kidnapping and pointing of a firearm.
The department said it has since joined in the matter to press for the prosecution of the accused for violating South Africa’s labour laws.