Monday, 21 March 2022

Koster: President Cyril Ramaphosa says when employers knowingly hire undocumented foreign workers, they contribute towards social tensions between citizens and foreign nationals in the country.

“I want to take this occasion to address employers in this country, including in hospitality, agriculture, transport and other labour-intensive sectors. When employers knowingly hire undocumented foreign workers, they are breaking the law,” the President said on Monday.

He made these remarks during the 2022 Human Rights Day national event at the Reagile Community Centre in Koster, North West.

“Those who want to live and work in our country must, however, be documented, and have the right to be here [and] work here,” President Ramaphosa said.

He said the Departments of Home Affairs and Employment and Labour continue to engage with employers to ensure compliance with the immigration and labour laws of the country.

“As a country founded on tolerance, respect for diversity and non-discrimination, we must never allow ourselves to turn against people who come from beyond our borders.

“Like those countries that gave us shelter during the dark times of apartheid, we must be a welcoming country, particularly of refugees fleeing persecution elsewhere,” the President said.

As the country observed Human Rights Day, the President affirmed that democracy and human rights must be enjoyed by all those who live in the country.

Today marks 62 years since the Sharpeville Massacre occurred on 21 March 1960, where 69 anti-apartheid protesters were killed by the police.

This national day also honours the 35 people who were killed when police cracked down on community members in Langa, Uitenhage, where they had attended a funeral on 21 March 1985.

Racism has no place in SA

The President said there is much work still to be done to build the bridges of tolerance and understanding in the country.

He said incidents of racism and intolerance in schools, workplaces, communities, universities, and professional sectors sadden and anger those affected by it.

“These incidents have no place in our society, where we still struggle to heal the divisions of the past,” the President said.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, said the various incidents of racism, lawlessness and attacks on black African foreign nationals, and sometimes Asian foreign nationals, show that as a nation, humanity is at an all-time low.

“The recent and to some extent constant waves of violence that besiege our nation at various times show us that we are at war, and in the process, it is our collective actions as communities that derail and erode our fellow human beings’ human rights.

“Collectively, we are not battling to end poverty.  We are battling ourselves. Let our actions not destroy our humanity and the gains of our democracy. Instead, our actions should entrench the Bill of Rights in all spheres of our society,” the Minister said.

Efforts to address unemployment

The President said unemployment is one of the greatest obstacles to the achievement of the rights of all South Africans.

“As part of our efforts to grow the economy and create jobs, we are driving a number of initiatives under the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

“To address the social and economic effects of COVID-19, we have introduced the COVID-19 social relief of distress grant, the special UIF wage support scheme, relief funding to small businesses and the Presidential Employment Stimulus.

“To safeguard the health of our people and support the recovery of the economy, we have implemented the largest mass vaccination campaign in our democracy’s history,” the President said.

He said eliminating poverty and inequality remains government’s focus as the country strives to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

“As government, we pledge on this Human Rights Day that we remain committed to progressively fulfilling the human rights of all.

“Let us work together to ensure that the Constitution makes a difference in the daily lives of all our people. Let us build a nation founded on human rights and dignity, and let us leave no one behind.” the President said.