The South African deciduous fruit industry needs to take note of the government’s announcement that it is going to adopt a zero-tolerance stance on the hiring of illegal foreign workers in South Africa. The Department of Home Affairs has developed a mandate for addressing immigration in South Africa. This includes:
- Facilitating and regulating the secure movement of people through the ports of entry into and out of the Republic of South Africa;
- Confirming and providing enabling documents to foreign visitors legally residing within South Africa;
- Enforcing immigration legislation and effect deportations;
- Determining the status of asylum seekers and regulating refugee affairs; and
- Contributing towards realising a positive skills migration trend into South Africa.
To this end, Hortgro promotes and supports the legal employment of all employees within the ambit of the applicable legislation. With reference to the employment of foreign employees, the Immigration Act, 13 of 2002 (“the Act”) and Regulation 35 of the Immigration Regulations published in 2014, sets out the legal position regarding the employment of foreigners. (Download the document here: Foreing_Employees_Information.
Hortgro in association with Agri Western Cape and other industry bodies urge producers/farming entities to make sure that foreign workers have all the necessary legal documentation required to work in South Africa. Necessary arrangements to secure such documentation should be made earlier rather than later, as this process is time-consuming and farms do not want to be in a position where critical-skilled workers have to be repatriated and the business is left with skills shortages.
The Department of Home Affairs cautioned all employers that, should they be found to have illegal ex-pats, they will be fined, and both the owner/chief executive of the company as well as the Head of HR of the company may face criminal charges and imprisonment. The Department of Employment and Labour is currently finalising two new documents that will tighten employment laws, including limitations on the hiring of foreigners, or a so-called quote system for specific sectors, including agriculture.
In the coming months, Hortgro will relay information to the industry as and when we receive it.