7 suspects in court for human trafficking and violation of labour laws

Seven Chinese and Taiwanese nationals appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Thursday for operating a factory allegedly involved in the trafficking of illegal immigrants and subjecting them to forced labour.

This, after the suspects - four men and three women - were nabbed on November 12 during a joint operation by the Department of Labour's inspection and enforcement service, police and Hawks following a tip-off.

"The department's joint operation at the premises of a company called Beautiful City Pty Ltd located at Village Deep in Johannesburg found minor children employed at the factory.

"The employer also violated labour legislations ranging from the National Minimum Wage, Occupational Health and Safety Act to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. 

"An audit by the department found 91 workers were employed at the factory during the raid," Gauteng's chief labour inspector, advocate Michael Msiza, said in a statement on Thursday.

In addition, it also served the lawyer representing the accused with a compliance order with regards to non-compliance of the Unemployment Insurance Act and Unemployment Insurance Contributions Act.

This is due to the employer owing the unemployment insurance fund R261 231.42 for non-registration, declaration and payments to the 91 employees who were found on the premises. 

"The employer has not only contravened the Unemployment Insurance Act and Unemployment Insurance Contributions Act, but has further spat in the face of the vulnerable by disregarding Section 27 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa that guarantees employees the right to social security," Msiza said.

The accused have not yet been formally charged and will return to the court on November 28 for a formal bail application.

They will remain in custody.