Johannesburg – Gauteng Premier David Makhura has declared that his administration will not apologize for the crackdown on illegal immigrants and counterfeit goods sold in the province.
This comes amid accusations that Gauteng’s Okae Molao operation promotes xenophobia.
In recent weeks different clusters of government, led by the SAPS and the Joburg metro police department (JMPD), confiscated counterfeit goods worth millions of rand in raids in Joburg.
Speaking during an oral question session at the provincial legislature on Tuesday, Makhura said several illegal immigrants nabbed in the operation had already been sent to the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp, where they would be held until they were deported to their home countries.
Makhura said while some have criticized the raids, the government planned on increasing their frequency with one scheduled for tomorrow.
“We as a self-respecting country need to know how many people are coming into our country who are not South African, whether they come from the continent or Asia or Europe.
“We also need to know those who are coming here for no good, who are here to turn our country into some illegal business,” Makhura said.
He insisted that the country’s laws embraced those who came from outside its borders just as South African freedom fighters were accepted in many countries during the Struggle.
“There are a lot of Africans who are in our country because the conditions are difficult.
“Some are running away from wars and others from persecution. They will come to a more peaceful country but we need to ensure there is proper documentation for everybody,” he said.
Makhura added that the Department of Home Affairs had to deal with its own documentation failings.
“Up to recently, Home Affairs was not processing a lot of applications. We have a lot of people who are in our country who came legally with papers but their papers expire and they get illegalized,” he said.
On counterfeit goods, Makhura said the country’s poor border controls, including at ports, played a significant role in increased criminal activity in the province and the entire country.
“These counterfeit goods go with drugs, where our country is turned into the drug den of the south, linked with some other countries. “The issue of strengthening our border security is something that is a priority,” he said.
The provincial government, through the economic development department, was also in the process of drafting a new, potentially controversial law, the Township Economy Development Act, where certain industries and economic activities would largely be ring-fenced for locals. Makhura defended the plan, saying that it was what many countries were doing across the world.
The premier also said the National Health Insurance (NHI) plan would ensure that all South Africans get equitable and quality healthcare. “The fundamental principle of the NHI is universal health coverage. The same applies to education,” Makhura said.
He said improvements to the ailing health system would be conducted at the same time as the implementation of the NHI. DA health spokesperson Jack Bloom asked how the NHI would be run efficiently. In response, Makhura repeated: “We want to provide universal healthcare coverage to all South Africans regardless of whether they have an income or not.”