Inspectors from the Department of Employment and Labour, in collaboration with the Department of Home Affairs Immigration Services and the South African Police Services (SAPS), met with agricultural employers in Robertson today to discuss the alleged employment of suspected illegal foreign nationals on local farms.
The meeting follows an interaction earlier this week between the Department and local municipalities in the Cape Winelands region, which sought to forge collaboration between municipalities, local governments, and national government to deal with issues of job creation as well as the issue of undocumented foreign nationals, which is causing instability in the region's communities.
During the engagements, the Department highlighted the services it provides, which include Public Employment Services, Inspection, and Enforcement Services, Unemployment Insurance Fund, and Compensation Fund, among others.
Clashes erupted on Thursday, 17 March 2022, between Basotho and Zimbabwean nationals over alleged competition for farm space between the two groups. Before launching an investigation into the allegations brought forward to the Department, the Department felt it was necessary to visit the area and engage with relevant role-players.
According to the Western Cape Provincial Chief Inspector, David Esau, there are no records from the Department of Employment and Labour indicating that corporate visas were issued for any foreign nationals to work on the farms, prompting the Department to launch an investigation into the allegations.
The Department intends to engage all relevant role players in a stakeholder engagement to form a collaboration that will ensure compliance with labour laws. "We need the labour brokers to tell us where they've placed people and on which farms so that we can go to those farms and use the Immigration Act to see if the people are legally in the country"; Esau explained.
Employers have vicarious liability, which the Department will enforce because it means that as an employer, you were aware of the person's illegality and should have reported it. If farmers have illegally employed people in the country, the Department will be forced to refer the matter to Home Affairs for action.
In collaboration with the Department of Home Affairs and the local South African Police Service, the Department will conduct joint inspections on all farms in Robertson to determine whether employers are adhering to labour legislation and following proper procedures when facilitating recruitment at their workplaces.
Issued by: Department of Employment and Labour