Anti-migrant group demands sacking of undocumented workers

Operation Dudula protested in Kraaifontein Industria last Friday. Picture: Sibulele Kasa.

Operation Dudula, widely regarded as a xenophobic vigilante group, has told Kraaifontein Industria businesses to sack undocumented foreign workers within two weeks.

About 80 people, mostly from Bloekombos and Wallacedene, joined a protest there last Friday.

It started with a squabble at a traffic circle in Maroela Street, Wallacedene, after a group of eight people claimed to be the only legitimate leaders of the organisation in Kraaifontein. However, they yielded after a brief meeting with the police.

The regional coordinator of the group in Cape Town, Bulelani Velehlathini, said they were still struggling with internal divisions.

The protesters demanded that the businesses sack undocumented foreign nationals and offer their jobs to locals and reserve all entry level jobs for South Africans with priority shown to the youth.

“As Operation Dudula, we demand the manager to remove all foreigners without the documentation. The foreigners should be verified and have a visa and or work permit in order to work in South Africa,” said a statement from the protesters.

Dereck Hirson, the regional manager of Saggy Stone Brewing Co, one of the targeted businesses, said: “We try to hire South Africans as well, depending on the vacancies.”

Many of the companies said they needed time to go through the demands before giving a comprehensive response.

James Chapman, the head of advocacy at the Scalabrini Centre, which aids asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants, said they rejected efforts to remove migrants from their jobs.

“Many of these people are in the country because they do not have a choice. They are in the country because of war, torture and persecution in their countries.

“Provide for and give them ‘asylum seeker’ and refugee papers because it’s not safe to be in their countries like South Africans were given during apartheid in countries like Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique and Lesotho.”

The centre had held a counter-protest in November last year when Operation Dudula had demonstrated at Groote Schuur Hospital with similar demands, he said.

City Law Enforcement, police and traffic officers were deployed to monitor the protest. Picture: Sibulele Kasa