Home Affairs ‘failing to protect migrant farmworkers’


Trade union federation Cosatu and refugee lobby group People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (Passop) have renewed their call to the Department of Home Affairs to provide amnesty to immigrants caught up in the farmworker strike in the Western Cape.

In a joint statement yesterday the two organisations accused Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor of failing to “respond to our urgent call for her to protect peace and stability of immigrants in De Doorns”.

Passop paralegal officer Langton Miriyoga said they had formally made the request to the department over a month ago but they had not received a response.

He said that their field officer stationed in De Doorns had given them a report indicating that among the many protesters being arrested in the ongoing strike, several of them were foreigners who had been nabbed because they did not have work permits.

“As the strike intensifies, so does the clamp down on immigrants,” he said, highlighting that Pandor should protect and grant amnesty to undocumented foreigners while at the same time issuing these people work permits.

By not giving them work permits, he said, indirectly they were bolstering the exploitation and abuse of undocumented workers.

The statement said the minister had failed to “intervene and we therefore once again call on her to consider and respond to our request.

“If she does not intervene she will be responsible if any incident occurs leading to any injury or mass displacement of immigrants.”

The organizations urged her to show that she cared “especially if vulnerable communities are being abused by bosses in reckless attempts to divide workers”.

Home Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa requested for the statement in order for them to respond, but had not provided comment by today. 

  • This article first appeared on West Cape News on 17 January 2013.