Police have arrested 46 undocumented immigrants believed to be from Malawi and Zimbabwe, who were being transported allegedly to work on a farm in Piketberg.
The arrests followed after authorities were alerted to a suspicious truck carrying about 67 people approaching Porterville from the direction of Paarl.
Rural and Farmworkers Development Organisation executive director Billy Claasen said he was driving between Porterville and Gouda behind the truck when he noticed a number of men in the truck.
“I called traffic officer Beikom Neehlin, who responded immediately.
When he reached us, the truck started picking up speed.
“I noticed that the men were on their nerves and standing around in the truck.
“Neehlin pulled the truck over and said he was going to take it to the police station because the driver and a man in front were giving different statements.
“When the truck stopped at the police station, a few men jumped out and ran off.
“There were more than 60 people on the truck and about 50 didn’t have their documents on them,” he said.
Police spokesperson FC van Wyk confirmed the arrests.
“The suspects are form Malawi and Zimbabwe, and they are mostly residing in Mbekweni and were on their way to work on a farm in the Piketberg area.
“The police are thankful for the good working relationship between SAPS, local traffic, neighbourhood watch members and community members who all assisted SAPS members in ensuring that all who jumped off the truck were brought to the police station and their statuses verified,” he said.
Bergrivier mayor Ray van Rooy said the municipality was aware of the incident.
“This a concern for the community in Bergrivier as this is becoming a trend now.
I am concerned about the labour contractor who brings the people to our communities. They only care about the money they get from bringing them to the farms. We also don’t understand why the local farmers employ illegal immigrants and not our local people,” he said.