Malusi Gigaba. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Malusi Gigaba. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

The Department of Home Affairs is planning interventions into economic sectors where there appears to be widespread noncompliance in the employment of immigrants, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Tuesday.

This was not intended to be "antagonistic" to business, but there was a need to proactively address sectors where many businesses were failing to meet the requirement of employing at least 60% South African nationals, Gigaba said during a briefing in Pretoria

He was speaking after a meeting between the department and representatives of the hospitality sector, including restaurants and hotels, to discuss high rates of immigrant employment in the sectors.

There is alleged widespread lack of compliance with the immigration act and labour laws, and concerns were being raised by citizens, communities and government departments, Gigaba said.

The department would undertake inspections of various businesses and work with industry associations on issues of enforcement and research, the minister said.

The Immigration Act requires companies to demonstrate 60% South African citizen employment across the business when, for example, a company applies for corporate visas or individuals apply for business visas.

The issue was brought to the fore by union federation Cosatu earlier in January, after accusations that a Chinese company had been allowed to bring in illegal workers during the construction of a cement plant owned by the PPC in the North West.

Gigaba said the department would probe those allegations and others. He said there was a need to "proactively" address issues of migration, given international focus on the issue and the rise of an unsustainable "right-wing" backlash against the issue.

Migration could not be halted entirely, but had to be managed, he said. "It is our responsibility as government to respond to issues … we will be implicated in any of the tensions that worsen from a failure to act," he said.

Following the meeting with hospitality sector representatives, Gigaba said other meetings were planned with the construction and agriculture sectors.

"Among other things, they (hospitality sector) agreed to raise awareness on the dangers and consequences of employing undocumented people, including the risk on their part to jeopardise their licenses," Gigaba said.

© Business Day

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