South Africa’s Home Affairs Department backed by the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), yesterday denounced violence targeting foreigners in Durban, mainly those engaging in small enterprises.
This was after the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) went on a rampage on Monday closing down foreign-owned businesses operating in and around The Workshop shopping centre in the port.
The group’s spokesperson for Kwazulu Natal told journalists that only South Africans should occupy profitable business spaces.
As a result, tensions have been mounting in the area with most foreigners in the KZN province living in fear of being violently attacked.
In a statement yesterday, the Department of Home Affairs said it was disturbed by the events that took place in Durban.
“We wish to remind citizens that there are foreign nationals who are in the country legally and are allowed to conduct business in terms of the applicable laws of the country.
“As such, they should not be unfairly targeted simply on the basis of their nationality. South Africa has immigration laws to deal with illegal foreigners,” said the Department. “South Africans must not take the law into their own hands but where they witness any illegal activities they should report this to authorities for further management.
“We advise people to report any illegal person to the law enforcement and Home Affairs immigration officials. All Home Affairs offices have immigration officers,” read the statement.
The Department said it had also started processing the deportation of 20 foreigners who were among the asylum seekers and refugees protesting in Cape Town. The deportation of these foreign nationals follows a successful law enforcement operation.
According to the statement, the department’s inspectorate officials, the police, the City of Cape Town, and the departments of Social Development and Health checked those at the temporary facility at Paint City in Bellville, Cape Town.
The DA’s Shadow Minister of Small Business Development, Mr Zakhele Mbhele called on the ruling ANC to take action against the “vigilante veterans” in its ranks.
“We also urge the South African Police Services (SAPS) to provide protection to these small businesses in light of the MKVA’s intimidation,” said Mr Mbhele.
“This malicious campaign to shut down these small enterprises is nothing short of economic terrorism, and these appalling acts have no place in our constitutional democracy.”
He said his party supports the effective enforcement of reasonable legal requirements for immigrant-owned businesses.
He added that the non-compliance to these requirements, whether related to tax or municipal trading regulations, can never be an excuse for vandalism, xenophobia, and intimidation.