According to the police, who were assisted by the Gauteng Province Labour Office in the surprise raid, the foreign nationals were subjected to inhumane working and living conditions while undergoing forced labour at the derelict factory.
Accompanying the police during the raid, Gauteng Province’s Chief Labour Inspector Michael Msiza said his officials “expressed shock and disgust” at what they found at the factory for this was “the grimmest site they have ever come across.”
Msiza likened the derelict factory operation, where the employees were locked up and lived in the facility, to “modern day slavery” and this would not be tolerated in South Africa, he said.
“There is no human dignity in locking in employees and violating their rights in employment, including a right to earn a minimum wage and to be covered regarding social security,” Msiza said.
The Malawian immigrants, some as young as 15 years old, were locked up behind high steel gates at premises known as “Beautiful City” in Village Deep area of Johannesburg, the labour official said.
The Chinese national expected to appear before a court of law next week, while the rescued workers are said to be kept at a secure place till they are identified, the Hawks said.