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CAPE TOWN - South Africa has started a review to inspect 72 Johannesburg Stock Exchange Securities-listed firms to ensure compliance with employment equity laws, the department of labour said on Thursday.

South Africa's employment equity legislation aims to remove unfair discrimination and accelerate diversity in workplaces as the government seeks to redress the race-based policies of apartheid which ended in 1994 when the ruling African National Congress came to power.

The department of labour said any company which breached employment equity laws could face a fine of R1.5 million or be liable for criminal prosecution to enforce compliance.