Seven Chinese employers accused of human trafficking and child labour appeared before the Johannesburg High Court on Friday.
Labour law violations
The accused made a dramatic admission of guilt for the violation of South Africa’s labour laws.
However, the department of employment and labour spokesperson Musa Zondi says the “other charges still stand and they will continue to face trial on those”.
The accused’s attorney, Jannie Kruger, read their statement, which was reportedly obtained under no duress.
Chinese nationals on trial
The seven – Kevin Tsao Shu-Uei, Chen Hui, Qin Li, Jiaqing Zhou, Ma Biao, Dai Junying, and Zhang Zhilian – admitted guilt of the following charges:
- Failure to register with the Compensation Fund for the Compensation for Occupational and Injuries Diseases (COID) Act;
- Failure to keep records of earnings of employees;
- Failure to pay annual assessments;
- Failure to furnish the Commissioner of the Compensation Fund with returns of earnings;
- Failure to maintain a safe work place/ adhere to occupational health and safety (OHS) Act;
- Failure to report incidents of injury to the Compensation Fund;
- Admit to failure to provide information to Commissioner of Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF);
- Unlawfully and intentionally failed to inform the UIF Commissioner of any changes at the factory;
- Unlawfully failed to pay monthly UIF contributions;
- Failure to provide to the UIF Commissioner of particulars of registration as an employer;
- Failure to declare monthly contributions to the UIF;
- Unlawfully and intentionally employed illegal foreign nationals; and
- Failed to comply with the duties of the employer.
In addition, the seven also face schedule six offences, as well as scores of other counts, including trafficking in persons, contravention of the Immigration Act, kidnapping, debt bondage, and pointing a firearm.
They have also been charged with benefitting from the services of a victim of trafficking, illegally assisting persons to remain in South Africa, and failure to comply with the duties of an employer.
According to Zondi, they were arrested for “allegedly running an illegal enterprise called Beautiful City Pty Ltd located at Village Deep in Johannesburg”.
“The Chinese factory was allegedly processing the inner cotton of blankets using recycled clothing”.