update


JUST IN: Human trafficking suspects denied bail

NEWCASTLE – The five suspects accused of trafficking 73 people into South Africa, appeared in the Newcastle Magistrate’s Court this morning to hear the outcome of their bail application.

Read: MUST READ: 72 victims rescued from human trafficking in Newcastle

The case was postponed from February 15 to today (February 20), where a certified interpreter was present.

“The accused are not eligible for bail as they are currently in the country illegally and pose a flight risk,” said the presiding Magistrate.

The first accused, the owner of the factory, was the only suspect who was to be considered for bail, as he possessed a valid passport.

However, the Magistrate believed granting bail would influence the trial proceedings.

Officials from the Department of Labour and Health as well as members of SACTWU and the Chinese community filled the gallery of the court.

Themba Ngcobo, spokesman of the South African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) welcomed the court ruling.

“We feel it will go a long way and set an example to other perpetrators of human trafficking,” he explained.

Some of the trafficking victims are currently being cared for at safe havens in the area.

“We sympathise with the victims,” Mr Ngcobo added. “We look forward to justice being served.”

Look out for more details of the story in this week’s edition of the Newcastle Advertiser.

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UPDATE: Human trafficking victims moved to safe house