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SA's migration policy under review

Minister Jeff Radebe today briefed a parliamentary committee set up to investigate xenophobic attacks.

FILE: Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe.  Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - South Africa's migration policy is ill-equipped to deal with the numbers entering the country and is now under review.

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe says the presence of high numbers of foreign nationals is putting the provision of services under strain and causing tensions through competition for scarce jobs.

He's also highlighted the prevalence of foreign-owned spaza shops in townships and settlements.

Radebe chairs the inter-ministerial committee on migration, set up in the wake of April's spate of violent attacks on foreigners that led to seven deaths.

He was briefing the parliamentary joint ad hoc committee that has until 20 November to report back on its findings and recommendations to deal with attacks on foreign nationals.

Radebe says poor border management and immigration controls have allowed an estimated five to six million foreign nationals to settle here, some illegally.

Radebe says immigration policy's under review

"Our migration policy's not equipped to deal with the inward migration of foreign nationals."

Radebe says the high number of foreign nationals in South Africa, their dominance in the township spaza shop sector and competition for unskilled jobs lies behind attacks on migrants.

He says the inter-ministerial committee on migration has found no evidence that South Africans are xenophobic.

"The primary cause of the violence against foreign nationals is the socio-economic impact of the high numbers of the particularly low-skilled foreign migrants better residing in our country."

Radebe says government is planning to audit and license informal businesses and wants local by-laws more strictly enforced.

The minister says the government also plans to audit and license informal businesses in townships and informal settlements, where he says foreigners now own or operate the majority of spaza shops.

He says some avoid tax, import counterfeit goods and act like cartels, closing out competition from locals and causing tensions.

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