Durban - Despite a poor turnout, Operation Dudula, a non-political civil movement fighting social injustice and socio-economic inequality, launched in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday.
Approximately 80 members of Dudula, many of them bussed in from Gauteng, walked from the Durban City Hall to the Point police station to hand over a memorandum to the Department of Home Affairs Immigration Services and the SAPS.
National general secretary Zandile Dabula said many supporters feared being arrested.
“It is not the support we thought we would receive from Durban. Many feared they would be arrested if they attended. We are disappointed, but we will move on.”
Dabula said the people of KZN were also affected by unemployment, poverty, and inequality. She said graduates were despondent and had stopped searching for jobs, communities lived in fear of criminals, and abuse of alcohol and drugs had become the order of the day.
She said: “Illegal immigration is a crime. We urge our government to enforce the Immigration Act in its entirety. We urge all Home Affairs officials tasked with protecting South Africa through law enforcement to do their patriotic duty diligently and without favour.”
Dabula urged the government to demonstrate political will and manage the country’s borders to minimise strife between South Africa and its neighbours. Dabula said all foreign nationals visiting South Africa were required to comply with the country’s immigration laws.
“They must abide by the terms and conditions of their visa status, and must depart upon the expiry of that status,” Dabula said.
She added that Durban is home to the continent’s biggest harbour and one of the South African Revenue Service’s (SARS’s) biggest customs offices.
“A syndicate has supposedly created a parallel counterfeit goods economy in South Africa, which supplies some of the malls located in large markets across South Africa. This syndicate has single-handedly destroyed the textile industry and contributed to joblessness in KZN and other parts of the country,” Dabula said.
She said the fact that tons of counterfeit goods could move from the harbour into Gauteng and across borders implied that law enforcement agencies were failing to protect the economy.
“We urge Sars and other relevant authorities to address this scourge. Counterfeit and illicit goods are destroying the economy and affecting the livelihoods of South Africans. Foreign investment is welcome; but must be done within the respective Immigration and Investment Laws of South Africa, including the applicable tax laws,” Dabula said.
Africa Refugee Social Co-operation Durban spokesperson Eric Jean Madel said the march did not end with the handover of a memorandum because it would continue on the ground. He said they were fully aware that there were powerful forces in the government and the police behind the Dudula operation.
“We know people were chased from their places of employment and where they lived in some provinces. The launch in Durban is a threat to us. What we can see is that it is manoeuvred by the government. They do not want to acknowledge asylum seekers. There are more documented immigrants than illegal immigrants in South Africa. They have already traumatised the migrant community,” Madel said.
Put SA First movement spokesperson Victoria Mamogobo said jobs must be allocated to South Africans first.
“We are tired. We have had enough,” Mamogobo said.
Department of Home Affairs Immigration Services official Andrew Dikobo said the memorandum would be handed over to the relevant department.
Dabula said their mission was to work with the government to ensure that laws were enforced.
Last month, a leader of Operation Dudula, Nhlanhla “Lux” Mohlauli, was released on R1 500 bail by the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court.
The movement rose to prominence in January after protests in Gauteng over illegal street traders, and calling for the removal of illegal foreigners and those without permits from townships and surrounding suburbs.