South Africa’s Home Affairs department has started raiding companies employing illegal foreigners around Gauteng Province to diffuse xenophobia related violence targeted at mostly Africans in the neighbouring country.In April 2015, they also launched a similar operation dubbed ‘Fiela’ when confronted with a similar situation. The department is reported to have intensified the raids last week succumbing to calls by the instigators of the mayhem claiming that immigrants contributed to escalating social economic imbalances south of the Limpopo River.
The attacks, which are driven mainly by afrophobia, have been more pronounced in Pretoria where many Africans in that country are living in state of fear.
Home Affairs spokesperson, Mr Thabo Mokgola, said yesterday there was nothing sinister about the inspections they were conducting as they were in line with the law.
He said organisations or businesses in that country were bound by the law to ensure that at least 60 percent of the employees should be local citizens.
“There is nothing sinister about the inspections and the enforcement of the law.
“People should be documented and where there are violations, we won’t hesitate to enforce the law by weeding out the culprits,” he said.
In the last few weeks, tensions have been increasing around Gauteng, where immigrants were attacked and some had their shops looted forcing President Mr Jacob Zuma and his Home Affairs Minister, Mr Malusi Gigaba, to intervene.
Mr Gigaba met with 35 African ambassadors and High Commissioners in Johannesburg last Friday, where he reaffirmed his government’s zero tolerance to xenophobia related violence against fellow Africans.
President Zuma also met his minsters of justice, crime prevention and security last Wednesday, where he set up an inter-ministerial committee on migration to tackle the new wave of violence in the neighbouring country.
“We strongly condemn the acts of violence and call upon citizens and non-nationals to exercise restraint, unite against crime and work with authorities to bring perpetrators to book,” he said.
President Zuma said it was wrong to solely blame foreigners for all criminal activities in South Africa.
In an interview yesterday, Zimbabwe Exiles Forum Chairperson, Advocate Gabriel Shumba said Zimbabweans and other foreigners around the Gezina and Sunnyside in the City of Pretoria were among those raided by home affairs officials.
“The raids apparently started last week. This is unfortunate in that it coincides with the advent of xenophobia attacks,”he said.
“Whilst the law is clear about issues of legal status. Let’s remember that invariably, those with valid papers have been frustrated when trying to renew them”.
Adv Shumba added that the behaviour of some law enforcing agencies deliberately or unwittingly fuels xenophobia either in acts or omissions.
He added that it was politically wrong to start or intensify searches for documentation when the situation was still volatile.
“Instead, all of us should be working towards prevention, healing, early warning and combating recurrence among other issues. There should be dis-juncture between rhetoric and practice. At present we need the fire of afro-phobia doused,” said Adv Shumba.-Herald