By Thupeyo Muleya
A 25-year-old South African man who is accused of trafficking four Zimbabwean illegal immigrants to the neighbouring country was yesterday denied bail by a Polokwane magistrate and is set to stand trial on April 12.
Raymond Sithole of Chebeng village in Seshego area, was arrested on January 3 by a team from South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (The Hawks) following a tip off.
Sithole is accused of holding the four Zimbabwean men hostage at his home.
Hawks spokesperson for Limpopo province, Captain Matimba Maluleke said the accused illegally took the victims aged between 15 and 20 years into the neighbouring country after promising them good jobs.
Capt Maluleke said the four were being held hostage at Sithole’s house.
He said sometimes, the man would send his victims to steal and do other jobs without payment.
“He is facing charges of human trafficking. The four men were allegedly kept under key and lock after being smuggled into South Africa with false promises of good jobs and better lives.
“In some cases the suspect would severely assault them if they failed to comply with his orders,” he said.
Capt Maluleke said the man was arrested by a Hawks reaction team after getting wind of the allegedly exploitation of the Zimbabweans.
The incident came shortly after police from both countries intensified border patrols in light of the increase in the illegal trafficking of children between the two countries.
In December alone, 120 children were intercepted along the border while being taken into South Africa, prompting security agents to re-double their efforts in fighting the crime. The Chronicle