Chinese group accused of human trafficking make bail in JHB court

Chinese group accused of human trafficking make bail in JHB court

A group of Chinese nationals arrested in November for alleged human trafficking have received bail.

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The Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Wednesday granted the seven suspects bail with strict conditions.

It was their second attempt to be released after their initial application was filed in November and later denied.

The seven suspects, Kevin Tsao, Chen Hui, Qin Li, Jiaqing Zhou, Ma Biao, Dai Junying, and Zhang Zhilian are alleged to have transported 91 Malawians to South Africa in a shipping container for forced labour in their factory in Johannesburg.

During a raid in November - officers found the Malawians - among them 37 children - working in atrocious conditions. 

"Their arrests followed a tip-off that the Chinese nationals were allegedly involved in the trafficking of illegal immigrants into South Africa and subjecting them to forced labour. The Malawians are alleged to have been brought to South Africa by a middleman known as 'the transporter' who is still on the run," says Labour Department's spokesperson Teboho Thejane.  

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"The Chinese factory was allegedly processing the inner cotton of blankets using recycled clothing. It is alleged that the company's operations were carried out behind closed high steel gates with access strictly controlled by employers. 

"Workers were also allegedly exposed to appalling working conditions without adhering to occupational health and safety."

The accused also face charges of kidnapping, contravening the Immigration Act and debt bondage.

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