Human trafficking accused in court

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The Johannesburg Magistrates Court granted amendments to bail conditions to one accused and denied bail amendments to accused six of seven Chinese nationals arrested for alleged human trafficking and the violation of South Africa’s labour laws.

Delivering a ruling in the application for amendments of bail conditions on Monday, Magistrate Basimane Molwana granted Kevin Tsao the right to fulfil his business obligations during the week.

The magistrate granted him permission to leave his residential complex without hindrance save for signing-in at a police station three times a week.

Other accused Dai Junying was denied amendments to her bail conditions because she failed to submit corroborative evidence.

Tsao and Junying are among six Chinese nationals arrested on 12 November 2019 for alleged human trafficking and violation of South Africa’s labour laws.

The other accused are Chen Hui, Qin Li, Jiaqing Zhou, Ma Biao, and Zhang Zhilian.

The four males and three females were arrested in a joint operation by the Department of Employment and Labour’s Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) branch in Gauteng with the SA Police Service (SAPS),  the Department of Home Affairs and the Hawks.

The seven accused first filed for bail in November last year following their arrest. Bail was initially was denied on 20 March 2020.

The defence then lodges a second bail attempt on new facts and on 25 May, the Magistrate ruled there were grounds for the defence to apply for second bail.

The prosecution earlier dismissed the defence submission of a second bail attempt as “reshuffling old arguments as new facts”.

On 24 June 2020, the court granted bail with strict endorsements to the seven in the drawn out bail hearing.

Tsao, a naturalised South African was on Monday granted R70 000 bail with conditions to leave his place of residence only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Hui, the second accused with a previous conviction was granted R55 000 bail, while the other accused were granted R30 000 bail each with strict conditions attached to their movements.

Accused two to seven are expected to stay at the place of residence of Tsao and are not allowed to move beyond the complex.

They are only allowed movement out only to sign in at  Cleveland Police Station and when attending court proceedings.

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

“The Department of Employment and Labour has joined in the matter to press for prosecution for violating South Africa’s labour laws.

“Prosecutor Advocate Dube served the accused with an indictment. Magistrate Molwana transferred the matter to the Johannesburg High Court,” said the Department of Employment and Labour in a statement.

The accused are expected to reappear in court on 16 October.