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Pretoria - The home affairs department will visit farming communities across South Africa to inspect the immigration status of workers, Minister Naledi Pandor told an Agri SA summit on Thursday.
The presence and employment of illegal and undocumented people poses a grave national security risk, Pandor said in Pretoria.
“One of the things I have always argued for is that everyone in South Africa should be documented; that is first prize for our country. There is a lot of insecurity if we document people,” she said at a joint briefing with Agri SA.
“We hope that the farming community is not allowing illegal migrants onto their farms. If they are doing so, provisions in the Immigration Act must take effect.”
She said her department had not done a definitive study on the extent of the trend of hiring people working illegally.
“We hope that this collaboration we have with Agri SA will allow us to agree on an outreach programme whereby our mobile offices will be allowed onto the various farms.
Pandor said the collaboration would also facilitate the early registration of children born to farmworkers and farm owners.
The campaign aimed to register the births of children on the National Population Register within 30 days.
“The only way to know who lives and dies is through civil registration. The civil registration allows citizens to enjoy the fruits of citizenship,” she said.
“Without the civil registration, we in government won't be able to design adequate public services or to pursue adequate policies of social inclusion.”
Her department had established the late registration of births process in an attempt to help people without birth certificates.
Pandor said she hoped the registration process would not be a mammoth task after the announcement of the collaboration with Agri SA.
“One of the things we have is mobility. We will have to go to them (at the farms). Through the co-operation of Agri SA, we will have access,” she said.
“One of the problems has been that the mobile units are not always able to get permission. We may arrive 1/8at the farms 3/8 on a day when there is harvesting or some other kind of activities. Now we will have to agree on days to engage on the registration,” Pandor said.
Agri SA president Johannes Moller said most farmworkers were documented, although employers could not verify whether their families had the requisite documentation.
“We are not always sure as employers that their 1/8farmworkers' 3/8 children are registered. A farmer goes about on his work, but it’s not always on his mind to ensure that children born on his farm are registered,” said Moller.
He welcomed the home affairs initiative to document farm dwellers.
Agri SA is a federation of agricultural organisations. Its affiliates are commodity entities, provincial agricultural unions, and a diverse group of farmers.