Cape Town - The Tshwane fruit and vegetable market in Marabastad was closed on Monday following a joint multi-departmental blitz to check on compliance with labour laws and immigration legislation.
The operation was led by the Department of Employment and Labour in partnership with the South African Police Service and the Department of Home Affairs’ Immigration Unit.
“During the joint inspection more than 20 people were arrested for being illegal immigrants, employing illegal immigrants, and employers who obstructed the inspectors from conducting their duties. It is illegal of an employer to interfere with the inspector when on duty,” the department said in a statement.
The inspection included a visit to the Oriental Retail Complex and nearby businesses where two retail stores were shut down for failure to comply with occupational health and safety regulations.
The hustle and bustle area of Marabastad is located west of the Pretoria central business district. The area has a mix of shops from those trading in “muti”, retailers, cafes, and vendors among others.
Department of Employment and Labour Chief Director for Statutory and Advocacy Services in the Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) branch, Advocate Fikiswa Bede said the inspection was led by the National Roving Team (NRT). She said the NRT inspectors were beginning to make an impact across the country.
The NRT was established in 2021, bringing together a team of inspectors from different provinces who are specialists in various disciplines of labour legislation such as the Unemployment Insurance Fund, Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), the Labour Relations Act (LRA), the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
The NRT has been involved in a number of mega blitz inspections in provinces including the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape and Mpumalanga.
“The Tshwane fruit and vegetable market in Marabastad was served with a prohibition notice. In terms of an inspectors’ report the market has been shut down because conditions threaten, or are likely to threaten the health and/or safety of persons in terms of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act of 1993,” the department said.
Traders at the market have been prohibited from using the building due to lack of fire-fighting equipment at strategic locations; operating in premises with open electrical wires; non-compliance with electrical installation which poses risk of electrocution and fire.
The prohibition notice will be removed once the owners of the building comply with the notice.
Bede said Marabastad was becoming a high risk area for non-compliance with labour legislation and needed sustained attention.
She said she was concerned that many traders in the area seemed oblivious to issues of compliance.
“It is either people here are ignorant of the law or they are just carrying on with their business without regard of consequences,” she said.
An immigration official during the blitz said there was a need for follow-up inspections to hit hard on non-compliance.