Free State police arrest 36 illegal immigrants and traffickers en-route to Port Elizabeth

AUGUST 5, 2016

Free State police say that the Hawks, working together with Theunissen police, on Friday arrested another group of 36 illegal immigrants in Welkom, en-route to Port Elizabeth.

The suspects, aged between 17 and 37 years of age, were arrested after members were alerted of a suspicious broken down van parked on the side of the road near Theunissen. 

"Upon arrival at the scene members found two males siting inside the van as well as a group of 9 males and two females that were sitting next to the road," described police spokesperson, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi.

"The remaining suspects were found hiding under a bridge nearby. 

"As a result of the subsequent police investigation, members discovered that none of the immigrants had any valid documents to be in the country and they were then arrested."

Brig Mlaudzi said that further probing revealed that the group were going to be sold for cheap labour in the Eastern Cape.

"Allegations are that they were on their way to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape to look for jobs.  This is the third group to have been intercepted; the other groups were intercepted in Limpopo and North West recently."

Meanwhile, the driver and passenger are expected to appear before the Theunissen Magistrate’s Court on Monday facing charges of human smuggling and for violation of the Immigration Act. 

The 34 immigrants will also appear at the same court separately on Monday as well for violating the Immigration Act.

Police investigation continues.