Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

In a joint operation, the department, together with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Hawks, on Tuesday raided the premises of Beautiful City (Pty) Ltd in Village Deep, Johannesburg.

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"The employer was [allegedly] violating the suite of labor legislation ranging from the National Minimum Wage, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act and Basic Conditions of Employment Act,” said the department. Image Credit: Twitter(@deptoflabour)

The Department of Employment and Labour's Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) in Gauteng has busted a Chinese factory involved in the trafficking of illegal immigrants and subjecting them to forced labor.

In a joint operation, the department, together with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Hawks, on Tuesday raided the premises of Beautiful City (Pty) Ltd in Village Deep, Johannesburg.

Inspectors found minor children, who are alleged to be around the age of 15.

"The employer was [allegedly] violating the suite of labor legislation ranging from the National Minimum Wage, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act and Basic Conditions of Employment Act," said the department.

In addition to the labor law violations, the employer was found to be in defilement of South Africa's immigration legislation, by-laws, health regulations and engaging in child labor.

Beautiful City, the operation found, employed 150 employees, with 149 of the illegal/undocumented foreigners.

"The employer is of Chinese origin and the company manufactures the inner cotton of blankets using recycled clothing, and its operations were carried out behind closed high steel gates," the department said.

Inspectors also found that the National Minimum Wage (NMW) Act was not observed, with estimated underpayments of about R6.3 million for the past 10 months.

The blitz inspection followed a tip-off made in August, which alleged that the Chinese employers were trafficking Malawians.

"Information obtained by the department was that the migrant workers were locked in a factory day and night. When the Malawian citizens wanted to buy [from the shops], they were expected to write down what they want on a piece of paper for their bosses to buy it for them," the department said.

Employees were found to be working under appalling conditions and were paid R65.00 per day.

"Employees are alleged to work seven days a week and any request to go on leave, they are informed to never come back. Employees lived on the premises in uninhabitable conditions. The employer failed to provide employees with information concerning remuneration and they do not have contracts," the department said.

The employer, who was arrested during the operation, also allegedly effected unlawful deductions from employees' wages.

All employees found on the promises were taken to a place of safety as investigations continued.

The company has since been issued with a compliance notice for failing to pay the National Minimum Wage.

Department of Employment and Labour's Gauteng Provincial Chief Inspector (PCI), Advocate Michael Msiza, said the team of inspectors that went on the operation expressed shock and disgust at what they described as "the grimmest site" they have ever come across.

He condemned the atrocities meted out by unscrupulous employers and warned that the department would not tolerate modern-day slavery.

"Such barbaric acts have no place in our democratic State that upholds and promotes freedom, equality, and human dignity. There is no human dignity in locking in employees and violating their rights in employment, including a right to earn a minimum wage and to be covered regarding social security," Msiza said.

(With Inputs from South African Government Press Release)

Article from: https://www.devdiscourse.com/article/headlines/744826-chinese-factory-busted-for-human-trafficking-in-gauteng


UPDATE

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.

Article from: https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/7-suspects-in-court-for-human-trafficking-and-violation-of-labour-laws-20191121