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​Yesterday, 22 March 2018, the City hosted a delegation from the Department of Home Affairs led by the Director-General, Mr Mkuseli Apleni. 

I am pleased to inform the public that this was a very successful and productive engagement. It provided the City with an opportunity to air its grievances with the manner in which the Department has historically engaged the City on the issue of illegal immigration. 

It also provided us with an opportunity to commit to work with one another in the best interests of our resident and inter-governmental relations as espoused in the Constitution.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has been plagued by instability over the past two years, with four changes to the position of Minister over this period. I believe that the Ministry had engaged us in bad faith over this period, however, I am willing to work with committed public servants in Home Affairs going forward, provided such engagements are at all times in good faith.

Both the Department and City agree that the challenge of illegal immigration in Johannesburg has reached crisis level. To address this challenge it is essential that we adopt a whole of society approach, at different levels of government and in partnership with civil society. 

To date, the City and Department have conducted a number of raids in Johannesburg. Seven such raids have been conducted in 2018, and to date 230 undocumented migrants have been repatriated in line with the applicable legislative framework. The City and Department have committed to work together as we intensify these raids in the coming weeks and months.

Emanating from this meeting, Mr Apleni and Johannesburg City Manager, Dr Ndivhoniswani Lukhwareni, will work together with relevant officials in the Department and City to develop terms of reference for our collaborative efforts going forward.    
I would like to reiterate that I condemn xenophobia in all its manifestations, and I will ensure that those who intend perpetuating violence against immigrants, face the full might of the law. 

I welcome foreign nationals into our city and country, and respect the rights of legitimate refugees and asylum seekers. All I have asked is that those who wish to enter our country, do so lawfully, and while they are here, they respect our laws. 

It is also important for us as government to understand that we cannot put our heads in the sand. It is important for our residents to know that we take their concerns seriously and are actively addressing them. In doing so, we can help to prevent future outbreaks of xenophobic violence.

To date, national government has failed in its responsibility to ensure that people entering our country are processed and timeously provided with relevant documentation. 

I see this as a failure of political leadership at a national level, and an unwillingness on their part to deal with uncomfortable issues.

I would also like to express my deep concern for the latest remarks made by President Cyril Ramaphosa in Kigali, Rwanda. The President is quoted as stating that we need to open up the borders of our country and allow people to move freely. I see these statements as not only reckless, but also completely devoid of understanding the real challenges we are facing on the ground due to our porous borders. The President speaks as if we currently have tight security and border control. 

With all due respect Mr President, our borders are already open.

Within the context of the City of Johannesburg, illegal immigration compounds serious challenges in the provision of basic services to residents.  We are faced with a housing backlog of an estimated 300 000 units. There are an estimated 190 informal settlements across the City and this number is increasing. In addition, one in three residents of Johannesburg are unemployed.

As a City, we are expected to proactively plan and budget for the provision of basic services to all our residents. How are we supposed to effectively plan and budget, when we do not know who is even in our City?

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.

The effective management of immigration laws and policy will protect those who wish to legitimately enter our country from criminal elements, including slum lords and drug traffickers, who abuse their desperation and are able to evade the law.

We cannot remain silent in the face of the breakdown of the rule of law in our city, and the rising human crisis. 

Ultimately, the causalities of the government’s inaction will be the City’s poorest residents, and indeed, law-abiding foreign nationals.  

If we are to turn around the City of Johannesburg and ensure that we reach our true potential, it is vital that the rule of law is respected. No country can hope to have a stable democracy, economic growth, development, and safe communities without the rule of law being upheld. 

After decades of flagrant neglect and a lack of political will to deal with this issue in Johannesburg, this administration is determined to transform the city into a safe and habitable place for our residents to live, work and play.

We all want to see this city, country, and continent prosper.

A Johannesburg that works is a South Africa that works. And in turn, a South Africa that works is an Africa that works.

Cllr Herman Mashaba
Executive Mayor
City of Johannesburg

Media Queries:

​Luyanda Mfeka
Director: Mayoral Communications
Office of the Executive Mayor
Cell: 076 171 5978