Gauteng Premier David Makhura says South Africans should not torment foreigners by demanding their immigration documents as that can only be done by the police and immigration department.
In his Sate of the Province Address on Tuesday, Makhura said, “It’s illegal to go around asking people about where they come from and why they are in South Africa. That’s the work of the police and immigration department.”
He urged all South African to stop evicting foreigners from rented houses and work places, noting that “it’s against the law”.
An anti-immigration outfit, #PutSouthAfricaFirst, was been been conducted random searches at work places and rented house where they have evicted foreigners and ordered employers to terminate work for outsiders and employ locals.
#PutSouthAfricaFirst’s anti-immigration drive is dubbed Operation Dudula.
Reacting to Makhura’s remarks, a Zimbabwean Greatman Mkhwebu said the Gauteng premier appears to be “playing politics instead of helping foreigners.”
Mkhwebu said, “He is doing all this because he is a provincial leader. They know what is going on and people like him are merely playing games. They don’t want to come clean on this fearing that they will be criticized by many people. He knows everything about Operation Dudula because such things can’t happen without government knowing about it. They know everything but are just playing with people’s lives.”
#Put South Africans First protested in Johannesburg’s Hillbrow suburb last week calling on employers to fire foreigners and employ only South Africans.
They gave local companies a week to get rid of all illegal immigrants, promising to take unspecified action against those that won’t heed their demands.
#Put South Africans First leader, Victoria Mamogolo, said they are rolling out Operation Dudula to ensure that the government follows strict South African laws, which stipulate that some jobs are reserved for locals.
Mamogolo said illegal foreigners should not work in restaurants, bars, saloons, departmental stores, vegetable markets and other places as there was no need for specialized skills in these sectors.
“We want the government to control our borders because we have a problem right now in South Africa. We are saying the government should deport all illegal immigrants who are stealing our jobs,” she said.
Mario Khumalo, another member of Put South Africa First, said Operation Dudula is designed to get rid of all illegal immigrants in order to economically empower locals.
“As South Africans who abide by the laws of the land, we want the government to follow the law. We are not breaking the law right now because all what we are doing is well-known by the government which has to get rid of illegal immigrants. As we speak right now, there are some representatives of the Ministry of Homes Affairs, including the police, who are here witnessing what we are doing.”
Police came out in large numbers after warning the group to stop demanding identity documents from people in South Africa. President Cyril Ramaphosa also told journalists a few days ago that it’s illegal for Put South Africa First to demand immigration documents from members of the public.
VOA correspondent Thuso Khumalo contributed to this article.