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Home Affairs must produce plan to address illegal immigration by 24 November 2017

The City of Joburg's lawyers have written to the new Minister of Home Affairs, Ayanda Dlodlo, demanding that her Department advise on the specific measures, plans and interventions which it will take to alleviate the serious challenge of illegal immigration in Johannesburg. 
The Minister has until the 24th of November to respond. Failing which, the City will have no option but to pursue the matter through our courts.

In the interests of inter-governmental relations, as espoused in the Constitution, I have for over a year and on numerous occasions sought an audience with the Department of Home Affairs. These attempts have been in vain.

Many people, out of desperation borne out of political, social and economic instability in their countries, seek a better life in South Africa, and the City of Johannesburg in particular.

As undocumented immigrants, 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.
It is essential that national government cleans up its act and ensures that it:

1.1. takes appropriate steps aimed at the identification and processing of illegal immigrants who reach the CoJ; 
1.2. ensures the expeditious provision of legal documentation for immigrants who qualify for such;
1.3. provides suitable centres or stations for the provision of immigration services; and
1.4. takes the necessary steps to engage with other spheres of government, particularly the CoJ, to address the pressing concerns referred to herein.

Within the context of the City of Johannesburg, illegal immigration compounds serious challenges for the provision of temporary emergency accommodation for residents and other basic services.

As matters stand, there are still over 120 allegedly undocumented immigrants being housed at the Wembley Stadium in line with the City’s obligation to provide temporary emergency accommodation. This followed a fire at the Cape York building in the inner city on 5 July 2017. Now into the fourth month, the Department of Home Affairs has still not determined the status of these residents.

From the City’s perspective, we also face a housing backlog of an estimated 300 000 units. I have stated on numerous occasions that I believe the inner city holds the perfect solution to this challenge, with the opportunity of government partnering with the private sector to create high-rise, densified, low-cost, quality accommodation.

The City has already taken steps to ensure this solution becomes a reality. Council has approved this administration’s plans for creating high-rise, low cost, densified, quality housing in the inner city. In light of this project, we have also conducted a number of raids on hijacked buildings, which have revealed a substantial number of undocumented immigrants residing in these buildings

To date, the City has conducted 11 raids within the inner city, in conjunction with the Department of Home Affairs. During this process, 267 allegedly undocumented immigrants were arrested.

This past Tuesday, the Gauteng Police Commissioner, Lieutenant-General Deliwe de Lange, was reported as also stating that 60% of those arrested for violent crimes in the province were illegal immigrants.

Despite being aware of this crisis, the Department has refused to develop a proactive plan for addressing the challenge. It would appear that the Department simply thinks that the matter will quietly go away. Unfortunately, it will not. Ultimately, the causalities of this inaction will be the City’s poorest residents and indeed, law abiding foreign nationals.

Hopefully, the City and its residents will finally receive a favourable response from the Department by Friday, 24th November 2017.

Cllr Herman Mashaba
Executive Mayor
City of Joburg

For further information, please contact

Luyanda Mfeka
Acting Director of Communications
Office of the Executive Mayor
Cell: 076 171 5978
Email: luyandam@joburg.org.za