CAPE TOWN, July 5 (Xinhua) -- South African Members of Parliament (MPs) on Friday called for intensified efforts to deter illegal immigration which is blamed for a series of social problems.
"What must remain clear is that illegal immigration into the country must be discouraged at all times," said Bongani Bongo, Chairperson of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs.
He was speaking after 37 illegal immigrants were arrested in Pretoria earlier this week, and face the possibility of deportation.
Bongo said his committee has highlighted the issue of illegal immigration as an area of focus and will work with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to ensure that measures to halt illegal immigration into the country are implemented.
Migration is a reality that all countries must accept and leverage for development and economic growth, Bongo said.
"Nonetheless, migration must happen within the framework of international and national law," he noted.
It is on this basis that the committee welcomes the arrest and possible deportation of these illegal immigrants, said Bongo.
"Every person within the boundaries of South Africa must be documented to ensure that proper records are kept," he said.
Documentation will also enable the government and non-governmental agencies at all levels to plan effectively, as then they will know how to allocate the resources they have, Bongo added.
While the committee is cognizant that the 37 illegal immigrants represent a fraction of the whole, it is hopeful that the possible deportation will act as a deterrent against illegal immigration, he said.
"We are also aware of the inefficiencies within the Department of Home Affairs, which must be urgently resolved to ensure that migrants are not disadvantaged when applying for documentation," Bongo emphasized.
The department must also put in place clear plans to strengthen the inspectorate unit within itself, he said.
Bongo said Parliament highlighted this as a critical impediment.
Above all, the DHA, together with other departments within the security cluster, must implement anti-corruption strategies to deal with allegations of bribery within the system, said Bongo.
He said his committee will for its part monitor the implementation of these plans aimed at ensuring the documentation of the migrant community.
South Africa reportedly hosts more than 300,000 illegal immigrants, most of them from other African countries. Illegal immigration has given rise to social tension in the country that has been gripped by high unemployment among local South Africans.