It’s war against illegal immigrants working across departments in South Africa, especially in the hospitality sector, says Home Affairs’ Malusi Gigaba in his move to create employment opportunities for South African citizens.
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba announced this on Tuesday saying the department will begin a crackdown on immigrants who are employed in the hospitality sector without compliance with the state law.
Gigaba, who was speaking after a meeting between the department and representatives of the hospitality sector, including restaurants and hotels, to discuss high rates of immigrant employment in the sectors, said this move is not intended to be ‘antagonistic’ to SA businesses, but to address the SA unemployment.
According to him, there was a need to take proactive action on sectors where many businesses were failing to meet the requirement of employing at least 60% South African nationals.
“There is alleged widespread lack of compliance with the immigration act and labour laws, and concerns were being raised by citizens, communities and government departments,” Gigaba said.
“The department would undertake inspections of various businesses and work with industry associations on issues of enforcement and research”
The decision by the state home affairs came after the department announced that it would begin deportation of undocumented Lesotho nationals.
Gigaba announced this on Sunday while giving an update on the Lesotho special permit application process which was introduced to regularize the stay of Basotho people in SA for work‚ study or business. The permit closed in December.
The department further explained that the Immigration Act requires companies to demonstrate 60% South African citizen employment across the business when, for instance, a company applies for corporate visas or individuals apply for business visas.
The issue was brought to the fore by union federation Cosatu earlier in January, after accusations that a Chinese company had been allowed to bring in illegal workers during the construction of a cement plant owned by the PPC in the North West.
Gigaba vowed to investigate the allegations among many others, given the international focus on the issue and the rise of an unsustainable “right-wing” backlash against it.
“Migration could not be halted entirely but had to be managed. It is our responsibility as government to respond to issues … we will be implicated in any of the tensions that worsen from a failure to act,” he said.
Concerning his meeting with hospitality sectors representatives, Gigaba said they agreed to raise awareness on the dangers and consequences of employing undocumented people, including the risk on their part to jeopardize their licenses.
He also noted that he would have several other meetings with the other sector like the construction and agriculture sectors to actualize its plans against employing illegal immigrants.
The jobless rate in South Africa went up to 27.1 percent in the third quarter of 2016 from 26.6 percent in the previous period, reaching the highest since 2004. Unemployment Rate in South Africa averaged 25.35 percent from 2000 until 2016.
The number of unemployed persons increased by 239 thousand to 5873 thousand. 21.7 million people were employed, 288 thousand more than in the previous quarter, Statistics SA reported last year.