Over 100 undocumented foreign nationals were arrested at a home on Friday evening and detained at the nearby Primrose police station in Gauteng.
Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi confirmed the arrests.
“A team led by the rapid response team of police brought in home affairs immigration officers, and we brought in paramedics as well because some of them were found not to be in good health,” he said.
According to the minister, the group was believed to have been trafficked.
“We have got to check them clearly because they are clearly victims, especially the 10-year-olds among them. They are victims that might have been trafficked,” he said.
Motsoaledi added that some of the foreign nationals were dehydrated and had to be transferred to hospital.
“The medical examination will determine this. I think the house is being used to bring people into the country,” he said.
The group consisted of 98 Ethiopian nationals and 4 Malawians.
“Only four of them have passports, but these passports are meaningless because there are no visas inside. When you come from Ethiopia to South Africa, you need a visa, but there are no stamps in the passport,” he said.
Motsoaledi added that the alleged “kingpin” was an Ethiopian man who has had refugee status since 2009.
“It has been renewed four times, and he has been misusing it, so we will be dealing with him,” he said.
The manager of the home was apprehended.
Police are still looking for the owner.
Motsoaledi added they are in the process of changing the laws.
“We are about to send a white paper to the Cabinet because we need to do a radical overhaul of the migration system of the country; there is no question about it.”