Solly Msimanga
Solly Msimanga

THE City of Tshwane is strategically placed in that it attracts talent from all over the country and the world. These are people who migrate to our city to seek out opportunity for a chance to improve their lives.

Many of them are domestic migrants taking up jobs in the city. We know from data provided to us by the Gauteng City-Region Observatory’s (GCRO) Quality of Life survey that the biggest percentage of migrants generally come from Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

However, the city also attracts a significant number of foreign nationals, many of whom have often fled their countries due to conflict or a lack of opportunity.

Those that come to our city, particularly from other African countries, sometimes often have nothing to go home to and have chosen South Africa as the place from where they want to make a fresh start.

Many of them are able to achieve this. The GCRO data for 2015 shows that in Gauteng, international migrants were actually more likely to own a business (16%) than people born in Gauteng (7%).

We welcome these people, they have come to South Africa as entrepreneurs and their drive to make a better life for themselves often means that they will employ local talent in their businesses which channels back into our communities.

As the Capital City, we are host to one of the largest collections of embassies and foreign missions in the world. The universities around the city also play a crucial role in attracting international talent as foreign students are drawn to our academic institutions. All of which contributes to the cosmopolitan feel and diversity that makes Tshwane unique.

Immigration and the role of foreigners in South Africa have over the last few years become highly politicised issues. It is not a unique trend to our country. Around the world, discussions concerning immigration have drawn media attention and been the focus of political debates. What is disturbing is the gross exaggerations that often occur with regards to the actual number of immigrants present in the country.

Again, let me quote the recent data from the 2015 GCRO Tshwane survey. They interviewed 7 242 people from across the city, of which 411 were foreigners. That is 6%; in fact more specifically it is 5.7%.

It is a shame that despite their contribution to our society foreign migrants have in the past been victims of xenophobic attacks.

In some cases we have seen how service delivery protests are hijacked by criminals who use them as a platform to attack and rob foreign nationals. Collectively as a society we must do more to protect our neighbours from these attacks regardless of whether they are locals or foreigners.

As a city through the use of the Tshwane Metro Police Department and joint actions with the South African Police Service there are continuous operations to safeguard our residents. In doing so the law is applied equally to all those that live in the city.

In conducting these criminal operations there are occasions when the perpetrators might be foreigners who are here legally or in some cases they are here illegally and undocumented.

However, there is a tendency in the country to associate specific groups of people whether it be through race or nationality with specific types of crime.

This is simply nonsense: criminals are found in various different groups, men/women, white/black, South African or non-South African.

When we as the City are policing crime we are not going after a specific group or nationality, we are targeting criminality as a whole in whatever form it may appear. If you are drug dealer and you are a South African, or a foreign national or an undocumented foreign national you will be arrested all the same and face the full might of the law.

The DA-lead administration is committed to ensuring that rule of law reigns supreme in this city so that all residents are treated fairly and equally.

Tshwane belongs to all those who live in it.

lSolly Msimanga is the executive mayor of Tshwane