A 39-year-old man suspected of being a human trafficking kingpin was arrested along with 42 illegal immigrants smuggled from Mozambique into South Africa.
A police spokesperson, Brigadier Selvy Mohlala said a group of 13 females and 33 males had been arrested on Wednesday morning while traveling aboard three minibuses from Mozambique to work as labourers in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
According to Mpumalanga Police spokesperson, Brigadier Mohlala, the alleged kingpin was charged with human trafficking and was expected to appear in court.
He said Lothair police in Mpumalanga received information through provincial intelligence structures about three minibuses transporting illegal immigrants from Mozambique and en route to Durban.
Further information indicated that the minibuses they were traveling on would pass through the R33 Carolina-Amsterdam road near Lothair.
According to Brigadier Mohlala, the police followed up on the information and began searching the Carolina-Amsterdam road at 8:30 a.m., saying at 9:30 a.m., three minibuses matching the description provided appeared.
“Minibus drivers were stopped and police conducted a search, which revealed that 42 passengers did not have legal documents to travel to South Africa. In addition, police found that none of the 33 had paid for their trip.”
According to a police investigation, it turned out that someone was funding the mission to transport illegal immigrants to work in Durban as labourers.
“The police are working closely with their colleagues at the Department of Home Affairs on this case. In addition, it is being investigated how 42 entered the country and whether others might have done so illegally,” said Brigadier Mohlala.
A suspected kingpin and 42 suspected illegal immigrants were due to appear in Ermerlo Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, charged with human trafficking and immigration violations.