A SOUTH African cabinet minister has warned local farmers against employing Zimbabwean illegals and then blaming the police when robbed and or killed by the foreigners.
Pretoria’s police minister, Fikile Mbalula, has form over the subject of Zimbabweans and crime in South Africa which hosts an estimated million-plus people from its economically crippled northern neighbour.
He has previously outraged Harare by claiming that former Zimbabwean soldiers fleeing President Robert Mugabe’s regime were responsible for violent crime across the border.
“It’s true that there are criminals who stealing from farms, undermining farmers work and that,” public broadcaster SABC quotes Mbalula as saying on Tuesday.
“But equally there are farmers, who are wrong, because they employ people from Zimbabwe as cheap labour and exploit them, and then those people turn against them and kill them and then it becomes a safety question.”
He was responding to questions from an opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) official during the release of annual crime statistics to parliament.
The minister continued; “So, I am saying to the farmers as I have met with them, stop that. Help me to ensure compliance, working with the department of labour.
“Don’t employ unregistered, undocumented foreigners in our country and when they turn against you blame SAPS. We’ve got nowhere to find such people.”
In April this year, Mbalula sparked a diplomatic spat after he blamed Zimbabweans for violent crime in South Africa.
“There are people who come here from Zimbabwe, and they cross the line here. They run away from the military in Zimbabwe and they come here and promote criminality here in South Africa,” the minister said at the time.
“There are Zimbabwean ex-soldiers who are in this country, robbing banks and promoting criminality. They are running away from uncle Bob (Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe) there.”
The remarks were condemned as xenophobic by both government and opposition politicians in Harare.
Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Pretoria, Isaac Moyo, then visited South Africa’s department of international relations to register Harare “unhappiness” Mbalula’s comments.
“The Zimbabwean government does not condone criminality by any of its citizens and the law must take its course wherever this is the case,” said the envoy.
“We, however, cannot accept the many ill-informed elements in the said statement [Mbalula’s remarks] and we deeply regret that they were made without due regard to their accuracy.”