Media release

Statement by Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration

17 May 2015
17 May 2015

Deputy Ministers                            
Senior officials
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
Good morning,

South Africa remains a stable country

It has been just over a month since incidents of violence broke out in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.  The work of the Inter- Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Migration, in dealing with all the underlying causes of the tensions between communities and the foreign national, and the prompt activation of the Natjoint, as well as the deployment of the security forces to volatile areas, has served as a strong deterrent to potential perpetrators

We are satisfied that we have stabilised the situation and further loss of life has been prevented.  Security agencies continue to work around the clock to protect both foreign nationals and South African citizens against any attacks.  We are maintaining law and order around the country.

We believe the  attacks against foreign nationals have been stopped because of the work done by government and civil society organisations in mobilising communities to denounce the violence, and ensure peace and harmony amongst all who reside in our country.

The work of the IMC on Migration continues

The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Migration continues to do its work to ensure that the underlying socio-economic issues that give rise to tensions between South Africans and foreign nationals are being dealt with. We are  certain that, in dealing with these issues, we are promoting peaceful co-existence between  all the people  in South Africa..

Since the advent of democracy in our country, we have taken a very progressive approach to migration.  We need a more focused approach to manage migration.

Issues of migration management have been the sole responsibility of the Department of Home Affairs. However, as we move forward, we will be including all of Government in developing a new integrated migration policy to address our challenges in a collaborative and integrated manner.

This process will further ensure the effective participation of  stakeholders such as civil society and foreign national organisations in managing migration into our country.

Operation Fiela - Reclaim

Since the establishment of the IMC, we have been engaged in an intensive process of responding to concerns raised by communities in recent weeks. Some of the concerns raised sharply by them relate to the rising levels of lawlessness. The government and the people are concerned about the impunity and disregard for the laws of our country.  Some say that they feel like they are under siege from criminals in their communities.  We are resolute to rid out communities of criminals.  As government we are going to continue to act decisively and swiftly.
Operation Fiela – Reclaim  is addressing security challenges in a structured and co-ordinated manner.  We are determined to take back the communities from criminals and to re-assert the authority of the state.

As the IMC  we would like to re-iterate that this operations is not targeting  law abiding citizens or law abiding  foreign nationals.  We categorically and publicly denounce that Operation Fiela is targeting foreign nationals. Government will never authorise actions that are contrary to our Constitution and the laws of the country.

As a country, we are concerned about the safety and well-being of all those who live and work here, and we want to ensure that both South Africans, and the foreign nationals who live in our midst, are and feel safe. There is no mission to single out foreign nationals for Operation Fiela search and seizure operations. Our operations are intelligence-driven and will continue to target areas, buildings and spaces which are known to be frequented by criminals.

We will, in the next weeks and months, accelerate our efforts to take back public buildings that have been hijacked, either by foreign nationals or by South Africans; rid our townships and villages of drugs such as nyaope, wunga and tik that are destroying the lives of many young people.

The IMC wishes to emphasise that we expect all people living in South Africa to respect the laws of our country. We are going to continue to arrest and repatriate those who have been found to have contravened our immigration laws.

Migrants are an important cog of South African society

As government, we realise the importance of a good and sustained relationship with the émigré communities living in our country.  We welcome the skills that foreign nationals bring, and the contribution they make to our economic life.

We are, however, concerned about those – both South Africans and Foreigners -  who illegally run businesses that are in some cases unlicensed, as well as those who engage in collusion, evade taxes, import counterfeit goods and conduct illegal business practices to the detriment of our economy. As part of Operation Fiela, we are going to ensure that we properly licence informal businesses and ensure the effective implementation of local government by-laws.

Operation Fiela - Reclaim continues to yield good results

The IMC on Migration is satisfied with the progress made through Operation Fiela. 

A total number of 3 914 arrests were recorded on various integrated operations under Operation Fiela in all provinces. These 3 914 arrests are in relation to various crime categories. It needs to be noted that, while 1 650 undocumented migrants were arrested, 2 264 South African citizens were arrested in connection in the various crime categories.

Just to reflect on a few of the various crime categories where Operation Fiela has scored successes, the following is emphasised:

  • Suspected human trafficking ring

4 May 2015: Two suspects (both Ethiopian foreign nationals) were arrested on alleged human trafficking in Mankweng in Limpopo. Nineteen Ethiopian nationals were found in a shop from where these immigrants were allegedly sold to other Ethiopians. The two suspects appeared in the Mankweng Magistrates court and the case was postponed until 19 May 2015 for a formal bail application. Twelve of the Ethiopian foreign nationals were between the ages of twelve and fourteen years. Seven were between the ages of sixteen to eighteen. They were all boys. The minor children (12) were removed to a place of safety.

  • Possession of explosives

4 May 2015: A Zimbabwean male was arrested at Beit Bridge Border Post in possession of explosives to the value of R100 000.00

  • Narcotics recovered

5 May 2015: The Hawks, assisted by the National Intervention Unit, Durban, raided Ramsgate House and recovered approximately 120 000 readily packed straws of heroin, and 8 kg of unpacked heroin to the value of R7 million was seized. Ten suspects were arrested and appeared in court 

13 May 2015: Ephedrine (2,31 kg) to the value of R693 000.00 was confiscated at the Lebombo Border Post and one Mozambique national was arrested.

  • Illegal firearms confiscated

8 May 2015: The National Intervention Unit in Durban, after an intensive information driven operation, confiscated in the Muden, Greytown area the following: Thirty one firearms, 415  rounds of ammunition, 25 magazines and 31arrests were made in this specific case.

It needs to be noted that a further 14 firearms, 53 rounds of ammunition and two arrests were also made in different provinces. This brings the total of firearms to 45 countrywide for this period.

  • Wanted suspects nabbed

9 May 2015: Information officers of National Intervention Unit, Pretoria followed up information regarding wanted murder suspects in the Dobsonville area. The members arrested two  murder suspects and recovered two unlicensed firearms and 16 rounds of ammunition in the process.

  •  Suspects positively linked to criminal cases

The SAPS Forensic Laboratory services visited Lindela and have started to deal with the finger printing of the persons there to ascertain whether they are linked to any outstanding criminal matters.

In Lindela 950 persons were processed thus far.

  • We found that 21 persons were wanted on different criminal matters – such as robbery, attempted murder; housebreaking and theft and rape.
  • More than 120 persons had previous conviction and 52 persons were awaiting trial.
  • About 12 persons had unsolved cases against them some persons had several cases against them.
  • 8 persons were previously arrested with different aliases than the names now registered at Lindela.
  • Some of the above persons were linked to cases as old as 2002.

The forensic services will continue with the work started in this regard.

  • Precious metals smuggling

13 May 2015: Copper and gold to the value of R24 304 921.87 was seized at the Beit Bridge Border Post.

  • Repatriations

The total number of persons voluntarily repatriated thus far are 5 645.
Malawians: 3 506
Mozambicans: 682
Zimbabweans: 1 440
Tanzanians: 17
Total number of persons deported thus far are 418 to Mozambicans.

Social Development, reintegration & health services

The Department of Social Development continues to work closely with other relevant departments, as well as civil society organisations to provide support to displaced foreign nationals. Over a thousand foreigners received trauma counselling, ten women with children under 12 months of which three had just given birth were flown to their respective countries on their insistence.

Twenty one other women with children under 12 month remain in our shelters until they are ready for repatriation.  The department provide dignity packs that include sanitary towels, lotion, deodorant and soap to displaced persons.

Other support provided to the displaced includes: Monitoring and management of disease surveillance, coordination of primary healthcare services, provision of psycho-social services, as well as reintegration of foreign nationals back into their communities. Social Development continues to make available its 24 hour gender-based  violence command centre - 0800 428 428.

Prosecution of cases of attacks against foreign nationals

Out of 87 cases, 83 cases have been postponed for further investigation. Four cases  have already been finalised as follows in KwaZulu-Natal:

  • One case  theft where the accused was fined R500 or 10 days imprisonment,
  • One case relating to possession of a dangerous weapon where the fine was R3 000 or 30 days imprisonment,
  • A case relating to malicious injury to property where the accused threw stones at a shop were a fine of R3 000 or 6 months imprisonment was imposed and
  • An assault matter was finalised through an alternate dispute resolution process, after the complainant and accused agreed to a mediation process.

Raid in Pretoria CBD and Sunnyside last night

A very successful operation was conducted last night leading to several arrest and finding of contraventions of the municipal by-laws. Successes included:

  • Seizure of liquor
  • One Hijack truck was recovered
  • 14 persons driving under the influence
  • 17 persons on illicit drugs
  • 4 persons dealing in liquor
  • 7 person on theft
  • 2 persons on robbery
  • 2 wanted persons were arrested and 1 person violating his parole
  • 130 traffic fines were issued
  • 16 undocumented migrants;

Various other matters are being processed.

Africa Month

The Department of Arts and Culture is currently rolling out a programme to celebrate Africa Month in South Africa. These celebrations underscore our view that South Africa is intrinsically linked to the rest of the African continent.  We encourage all sectors of society to join the Africa Month celebrations.

South Africans should take part in Africa Friday events that encourage people to use cuisine, fashion, dialogues and many other elements to express the fact that We Are African before we are South Africans.

South Africans are positive about  Operation Fiela-Reclaim

As we move forward, we are motivated by the overwhelmingly positive feedback we are receiving from communities about Operation Fiela.  We would like to urge  all people in  South Africa to play their part in ridding our communities of crime. They should report crime wherever they see it rearing its ugly head.

They should make use of the toll-free crime stop number contact the police by dialling 08600 10111.

Phumla Williams
Acting Cabinet Spokesperson

Share this page
Similar categories to explore