Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
SOUTH Africa’s Home Affairs Department has started raiding companies employing illegal immigrants around Gauteng Province in a move aimed at diffusing xenophobia related violence targeted against mostly Africans in the neighbouring country.
In April 2015, the department 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 contribute to escalating social economic imbalances south of the Limpopo River.
The attacks, which are driven mainly by afro-phobia, have been more pronounced in Pretoria where many Africans in that country are living in a 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,” Mr Mokgola said.
In the last few weeks, tensions have been increasing around Gauteng where immigrants were attacked and some had their shops looted forcing President Jacob Zuma and his Home Affairs Minister Mr Malusi Gigaba to intervene.
Mr Gigaba met 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 Ministers 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.
Advocate Gabriel Shumba of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum condemned the raids.
“The raids apparently started last week. This is unfortunate in that it coincides with the advent of xenophobia attacks,” he said.
“While 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 said the behaviour of some law enforcement 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 disjuncture between rhetoric and practice. At present we need the fire of afro-phobia doused,” said Adv Shumba.