Foreign nationals remanded in custody for alleged human trafficking

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Foreign nationals remanded in custody for alleged human trafficking

It is alleged that on Wednesday, 28 February 2024, at about 18:30,  information was received by members of  Middelburg Flying Squad regarding two vehicles, a grey Ford Ranger with a canopy and a grey Toyota Fortuner both with Gauteng registration number plates, traveling along N11 from Groblersdal Limpopo  Province towards Middleburg. Information was taken to the specialized units and used.

The team comprising of Middelburg Flying Squad, Middelburg Tracing Team, Tracker Connect, patrolled N11 towards Groblersdal. At  Botshabelo Gate, they came across the vehicles fitting the given description, and they made a u-turn and switched on the blue lights to stop the vehicles. The Ford Ranger was pulled off the road and the Fortuner continued driving at a high speed.

Upon searching the Ford Ranger, seventeen (17) young looking Ethiopian males were found squeezed inside. The driver was questioned. He told the team that they were following the Fortuner which was heading to Midrand in Gauteng. 

He further revealed that the trip was not the first whereby foreign nationals were taken to Midrand.  The driver and the crew together with the seventeen Ethopians 

were arrested and detained. Hawks were called to join the team. The case was handed over to them for further investigation.

Meanwhile on Thursday, 29 February 2024 the Middelburg District court has , remanded seventeen foreign nationals and two South African citizens in custody for contravention of Trafficking in Persons Act 7 of 2013 and contravention of Sec 49(1)(a) of the Immigration Act, Act no 13 of 2002.

The nineteen appeared in court the following day, but due to the language barrier, they were remanded in custody pending the services of the court interpretor and ordered that the foreign nationals be taken for age determination.

The nineteen are due back in court on 8 March 2024. Investigation still continues.