Hortgro calls on all stakeholders to ignore or report any documentation delivered in the name of Operation Dudula, or any other form of intimidation by this group.
Several producers received a notification from this group that demanded that employers should not hire any foreign nationals and remove any undocumented foreigners. The so-called “compliance notice” is written in such a way as to create the impression that Operation Dudula is working with the Government, which is not the case. According to the notification “compliance needs to happen within 14 days or law enforcement will be called in”. [Operation Dudula_notification]
Operation Dudula does not have a mandate from any South African government department and is operating on its own accord.
Operation Dudula was formed on 16 June 2021 in Soweto, shortly after the KZN unrest last year. The word “dudula” is the isiZulu word for “to force out” or “knock down”. At the time the organisation campaigned for “the removal of illegal immigrants that burden the public health services, take job opportunities, and social grants”. In April this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa, condemned this group’s actions and described them then as a “vigilante-type that needs to be stopped”.
Agri Western Cape has indicated that they will liaise with the Western Cape Government as well as the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development (DALRRD) regarding the delivery of these notifications to agriculturists.
In the meantime, Hortgro calls on stakeholders to employ local workers where possible and in this way ensure rural stability and economic growth.
Strict regulations regarding foreign employees
The Government is adopting a strict stance on the hiring of illegal foreign workers in South Africa and regulations will be enforced in 2023.
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.
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 must 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 undocumented foreign employees, 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.