Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi has called for harsh action against employers who have been found to have hired illegal foreign nationals who fled their own countries to look for jobs in South Africa illegally.
This follows clashes between Lesotho nationals and Zimbabweans in Robertson in the Western Cape over the last few days.
Nxesi told parliamentarians on Wednesday that employers have to take responsibility for their actions.
He said they are tightening up the laws to ensure that people are employed legally in the country and that no one violates the law.
The department of labour was investigating how the South African employers hired illegal foreign nationals in the country, he said.
Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi also told Parliament this week that they wanted to crack down on employers who flouted immigration and other laws by hiring illegal foreign nationals.
He had said no one had applied for a corporate visa in Robertson.
Nxesi said they had taken note of what happened in Robertson, and his department had intervened immediately after the clashes between Basotho and Zimbabweans broke out.
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They want farmers responsible for the employment of illegal foreigners to face the consequences.
“In relation to the clashes, which we have just seen between Basotho and Zimbabweans, the second day there was that conflict. The department was there to try and first mediate those issues. But part of the problem is what we are addressing in the proposed National Labour Migration Policy, the issue of putting undocumented people into this country. But when there is such violence, the first thing is to mediate that there is no violence, there is peace, and then other issues follow,” said Nxesi.
“Like we have said, we are investigating how those employers and I think time has come we put the ball in the court of the employers who deliberately want to exploit this cheap labour. In fact, truth be told, we need to come up with harsh punitive measures against employers who are violating the law,” he said.