Pretoria – Two alleged human trafficking kingpins from Bangladesh, appeared at the Nelspruit Magistrate Court on Tuesday where they abandoned their bail application.
Mujahid Hussain and his co-accused Ishan Ullah appeared in court facing charges of contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act.
Hawks spokesperson in Mpumalanga, Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi said they were arrested after 19 foreign nationals were found locked in a house in Kamagugu just outside Mbombela.
“On arrival at the address, the gate was locked. The team managed to gain entry into the property. They found 19 males packed into a three-bedroomed house without furniture.
“Preliminary investigation established that 14 of those detained were Bangladeshi’s and five were Pakistanis. The police recovered 18 passports, 27 cellphones, cellphones chargers. The items were packaged together and kept by the caretaker.
“The suspects, who could not communicate in English, had passports that were not stamped by South African immigration,” Sekgotodi said.
Sekgotodi added that Hussain and Ullah’s legal representative told the court that the accused intend to plead guilty.
“Both accused remanded in custody,” Sekgotodi said.
Their case was postponed to 23 May for further investigation and plea.
Meanwhile, judgment against Gerhard Ackerman, accused of running a sex trafficking ring involving underage boys, is expected to take place on Monday.
The judge presiding over the case reported that he was ill and would not be able to read out the judgment. According to reports, the judgment would be read over two days next week.
Ackerman faces more than 740 counts of crime, including rape, attempted murder, the production and distribution of child pornography and human trafficking – he has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Ackerman was charged alongside acting judge and senior advocate Paul Kennedy for allegedly running the human trafficking ring between September 2020 and July 2021.
Kennedy has since died by suicide.