South Africa Home Affairs Minister clueless over immigration figures

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South African government has no clue as to the number of illegal immigrants residing in the country, a cabinet minister revealed. Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told parliament that “obtaining such a figure was difficult”.

Said Dlamni-Zuma: “I don’t know. If somebody’s here illegally, how
do I know they are here? I do not know, that’s an honest answer.”

Asked to confirm whether her department had absolutely no estimate of the number of illegal immigrants, Dlamini-Zuma said the only figures she could offer were those of asylum seekers.

“What I can tell you is that [last year] there were about 110 000 applications for asylum. Only 10 000 were agreed to as genuine asylum seekers and those were then given refugee status.

“The rest would have had to leave by either deportation or voluntarily… But as for those who don’t turn up at our offices, either as asylum seekers or permit seekers or anything it’s very difficult [for me to] give you a figure for that,” Dlamini-Zuma is quoted saying.

According SA Police Service, in its latest (2008/09) annual report it says there could be as many as six million “undocumented” foreigners in the country. South Africa has population of 47 million.

The police say most of these illegal immigrants “may belong to the economically-active age group, as well as the high crime-risk age group”.

South Africa is home to several nationalities throughout Africa with the majority said to be from Zimbabwe. Rough estimates say are nearly 3 million Zimbabweans resident in South Africa and this is creating growing anxiety among the working-class South Africans who compete with them for jobs.

Last year the anxiety turned to anger, as a wave of xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg townships left scores of people dead. South Africans have also blamed the high crime rate in the country to foreigners.

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