Government silent in the face of rising unlawful immigration crisis

ActionSA has received correspondence from the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, on concerns regarding the influx of undocumented persons in Tshwane and its surroundings. This is after ActionSA wrote to the Minister, the Mayor of the City of Tshwane, Cllr Randall Williams, and the Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), Mr Edward Kieswetter, following a visit to Kudube Ext 2, in Temba Hammanskraal, where the community has become the target of criminals perpetrating alleged property invasions, by-law infringements, reported attempted hijackings, and other criminal activity. The community alleges that the members of this group of criminals are largely undocumented persons.

While all our communities must be inclusive and welcoming to people from across the globe, all people – South African citizens and foreign residents alike – must respect our laws. This includes the need for foreign nationals to enter our country legally and obey our laws once here. In this respect, the allegations made by the community regarding certain criminal activities are deserving of investigation and require appropriate action by government authorities.

In his letter, the Minister concedes that unlawful immigration, and the challenges it presents, are of major concern for his office. However, Dr Motsoaledi is vague on how the matter is to be effectively addressed. Strangely, the Minister refers to a meeting between City of Tshwane officials and himself on the 26th of February 2021 – where parties supposedly agreed to address the present problem – but no concrete plan is adequately indicated by the Minister. Dr Motsoaledi’s “response” to this issue is indicative of the government’s failure to ensure that the rule of law is respected. This seems to have become fashionable across government. It is disappointing to note the SARS Commissioner (who had promised to respond to our letter of 13 May 2021 by 13 June 2021) and the Mayor of Tshwane have not responded to the concerns raised by the community. It is evident that various spheres of government, including SARS, are needed within the community to ensure that businesses operating within the area are legal, tax compliant, and not trading in counterfeit goods; equally, the DA-led City of Tshwane needs to ensure by-law enforcement takes place.

Frankly, the government’s unwillingness to secure our porous borders is allowing criminal elements to enter the country and act with impunity. This cannot be tolerated. Government must understand that it cannot hide its head in the sand on this issue. Residents need to know that their concerns are taken seriously and are actively addressed. This matter is not only of importance to the City of Tshwane but is of concern in Johannesburg, eThekwini, Ekurhuleni and all cities across South Africa – the government is failing in its responsibility to ensure our borders are properly safeguarded and that people entering our country are processed and timeously provided with relevant documentation. This failure must come to an end.

Ultimately, unlawful immigration not only presents potential security concerns but compounds serious challenges in the provision of basic services to residents. Metros and municipalities are expected to proactively plan and budget for the provision of basic services to all their residents. However, it is impossible to budget and plan for services when no one knows how many people live within our cities.

Equally, many people, out of desperation borne from political, social, and economic instability in their countries, seek refuge in South Africa. As undocumented persons, many of these people make it past our borders and are forced to live on the fringes of our society, in the shadows, and with limited protection. The effective management of immigration laws and policy will protect those who wish to legitimately enter our country from criminal elements. It is important that we not remain silent in the face of the breakdown of the rule of law in our cities. Ultimately, the causalities of the government’s inaction will be our poorest residents, and indeed, law-abiding foreign nationals.

ActionSA remains committed to working with and all other spheres of government, to ensure that the laws of our country are upheld and that our cities are functional and safer for all citizens. However, the government must come to the party.

ActionSA stands ready to provide a real alternative to the broken governance that has failed our communities.