Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba File picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/ANA Pictures

Johannesburg - The City of Joburg said on Wednesday that the Department of Home Affairs, in an official response, has agreed to establish a joint committee in a bid to deal with the challenge of rising illegal immigrants in the city.

This comes after the City this year wrote to the department demanding it develop a plan to address the rising illegal immigration challenges faced by the city.

In October, Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba, who had had enough of undocumented foreign nationals, instructed the City's legal team to look at all legal options, even threatening to go to court to compel the department to address illegal immigration in the City, saying that the issue had reached "crisis levels".

In a statement on Wednesday, Mashaba welcomed the establishment of the joint committee between the City and the department, stating that the committee will be tasked with developing a plan to address illegal immigration in the best interest of residents and in the interest of good cooperative governance.

"This City will now engage with the Department to agree on terms of reference for the joint committee and times frames for completion of the committee’s work. Once the joint committee has finalised its work, I will meet with the Minister of Home Affairs, Ayanda Dlodlo, to consider and approve the plan," Mashaba said.

"I am happy to see that Minister Dlodlo is taking these immigration challenges seriously, unlike her two predecessors. For over a year, I have on numerous occasions sought an audience with the Department of Home Affairs, in good faith – sadly those attempts were in vain."

The City of Johannesburg is faced with a housing crisis as people from all over the continent, including many undocumented foreign nationals, flock into it to seek better opportunities, contributing to rising overpopulation and buildings being "hijacked". 

Mashaba said that illegal immigration compounds serious challenges for the provision of temporary emergency accommodation for residents and other basic services.

"It is therefore crucial that a comprehensive plan be developed which will finally start addressing these pressing concerns. This new joint committee can thus not be allowed to degenerate into another intergovernmental talk shop with few results," Mashaba said.

"As the custodian on immigration matters, I hope that the Department will show leadership in this matter. Hopefully, the newfound commitment shown by the Department will bear an effective and lasting solution which will protect the best interests of our citizens and law abiding foreign nationals in our City."

African News Agency/ANA