South Africa will harshly punish employers who employ undocumented foreign nationals, Home Affairs Deputy Minister Njabulo Bheka said on Wednesday.
“We will curb the appetite of employers to employ undocumented foreign nationals all in the name of profits,” Bheka said while delivering his department’s 2019/20 budget in Parliament.
Such employers must know that when they break the law and employ illegal immigrants they will face the consequences, and the country’s inspectorate unit will leave no stone unturned to bring them to book, Bheka said.
The major reason why these employers do this is because the seek to maximize their profits by abusing foreign nationals by paying them below market value salaries because they know they are in the country illegally, said Bheka.
“This can no longer be allowed to continue. We will fight the corruption that allows people and goods to enter the country illegally,” he said.
Bheka disclosed that between July 1 to July 7, law enforcement agents arrested 39 foreign nationals who were driving trucks without permits and have no legal status to be in the country.
One employer has already been charged and more arrests are imminent, Bheka said.
Despite open and friendly channels of migration, South Africa still has those who enter the country illegally undermining its sovereignty, he said.
According to Statistics South Africa, the number of undocumented immigrants stands between 500,000 and one million in the country. Most of the illegal immigrants come from other African countries.
“We have a serious responsibility to capacitate our inspectorate and allocate the necessary funding in order to enforce immigration laws that decisively deal with illegal immigration and its impact on our economy, social security and national security,” Bheka said.
According to Bheka, South Africa is moving forward with the One Stop Border Post (OSBP) project, which will be implemented in the six priority land ports between South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
These posts will promote intra-regional trade between the countries and reduce elicit trade as well as illegal movement of people within the borders, Bheka said.
The OSBP project will also reduce congestion, and improve turnaround times in the ports of entry, he added.