City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba is seeking parliament’s intervention on illegal immigration crisis in Johannesburg.
Mashaba wrote to the Chairperson of parliament’s portfolio committee for Home Affairs Bongani Bongo on the 5 August 2019.
“On the letter, I requested an opportunity to appear before the portfolio committee in order to brief on the dysfunctional of department of Home Affairs. I have engaged department and ministers on an illegal immigration crisis facing Johannesburg to five ministers of Home Affairs, for almost three years. The efforts were made in total good faith and in the best interests of Johannesburg and its residents. The department is dysfunctional and failing to address the issue of undocumented immigrants”, said Mashaba.
He added that it has become necessary to take up this crisis with parliament, with the hope that the department of Home Affairs will finally be held uncountable.
“As a City, we are expected to proactively plan and budget for the provision of basic services to all our residents. How are we, as a City, supposed to effectively plan and budget, when we do not know who resides in our City? The City’s Health Department is one such victim of this inability to plan and budget accurately”, said Mashaba.
He added that a report by the Health Department outlining its struggle to cope with the additional pressure brought about by undocumented immigrants, highlighted that between 15-39% of patients accessing City’s clinics were undocumented immigrants.
“The City is currently facing numerous challenges, including a housing backlog of an estimated 300 000 units. Within the context of the Johannesburg, illegal immigration compounds serious challenges in the provision of basic services and temporary emergency accommodation (“TEA”) to residents. As a City, we are also expected to proactively budget and plan for the provision of TEA, should residents be rendered homeless as a result of evictions or natural disasters”, he said.
Mashaba said that during July 2017 the City housed over 600 undocumented immigrants from Tanzania at the City’s Wembley Stadium, in line with the City’s obligation to provide TEA. He added that this followed a fire at the Cape York building in the inner city.
“Within days the Department of Home Affairs should have sent representatives to determine the legal status of the Tanzanian nationals, issue those that qualified with the requisite papers and removed those who were illegally in South Africa. The City went so far as to engage the Tanzanian Embassy, who were willing to provide the City and the Department with assistance, however the undocumented immigrants refused this assistance. It has been over two years since the City first provided the required TEA, and the undocumented Tanzanian nationals continue to reside in TEA at Wembley Stadium”, he added.