Authorities rescued 72 foreigners believed to have been trafficked into the country and used as cheap labour at a factory in KwaZulu-Natal, the Hawks said on Monday.
According to the Hawks, the foreigners were trafficked from Swaziland and Lesotho to work at a factory in the Newcastle area.
In a statement, the Hawks said that after receiving information on the factory, a search warrant was obtained and authorities from departments including labour and home affairs raided the premises on Friday.
"A search was conducted and the victims were found working. Preliminary investigations revealed that the victims were brought into South Africa illegally."
Five suspects aged between 18 and 35 were arrested.
They were charged with human trafficking and are due to appear in the Newcastle Magistrate's Court on Monday.