South Africa too lenient on undocumented migrants – Gauteng police boss

By Staff Reporter

Gauteng police commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela has blamed the South African government for allowing undocumented migrants to return into the neighbouring country’s society instead of being deported when their crimes are concluded in the courts.

He was giving oral evidence before the Gauteng legislature’s portfolio committee on community safety on how police were addressing high level crime in Diepsloot.

Mawela said efforts by police to tame South Africa’s high crime rate shall remain elusive for as long as criminals were allowed back into society when proven in the courts that they are undocumented migrants.

“When they [undocumented migrants] appear before court, the majority of them pay their fines and return back to the community.

“In a way, by taking those people through the court process, you are legitimising their status in the country,” Mawela said.

He said in the past, undocumented migrants caught on the wrong side of the law were immediately deported, somewhat relieving the community of the high crime burden.

Mawela added, “But when undocumented people realise there is a loophole in the court process, they don’t mind [being arrested]. They feel it is better to be arrested, go through the court process and then you are legit in the country.

“Another loophole that undocumented migrants exploit is that once you have appeared before court, you can say ‘actually, my lord, I’m here for asylum purposes’. You are then being given an opportunity to go and apply for asylum status. You are then legit in the country.

“This is something that requires the lawmakers to correct. We as police have done our part.”

Zimbabweans in South Africa constitute 45 percent of the giant migrant population in the neighbouring country, according to statistics which place the number at between 1 to 3 million Zimbabweans.

A lot of Zimbabweans have been linked to rampant criminal activity in South Africa.

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