Manager, three foreign nationals arrested in joint blitz operation

Four are subjected to fines after admitting guilt, according to labour department

Four people arrested were taken to the Tsakane police station for processing.
Four people arrested were taken to the Tsakane police station for processing.

A general manager at a steel company and three foreign nationals with fake documentation employed there were arrested in a joint blitz operation led by the department of employment and labour.

This as the department warned employers "from the practice of employing undocumented foreign nationals and those producing fake documents because they will also get arrested".

The department's spokesperson Teboho Thejane on Wednesday said the operation at NJR Steel-Brakpan's subsidiary NJR Mesh, in Ekurhuleni, was conducted jointly with the department of home affairs, police, Gauteng crime wardens, and provincial traffic cops.

They said the four people arrested were taken to the Tsakane police station for processing.

Department of employment and labour provincial chief inspector, Adv Michael Msiza, said: "Every employer has to account for people in his or her establishment, so as to know the person is who he/she says he/she is. It is your obligation to verify the real person,” Msiza said.

“We are concerned about this unabated hiring of undocumented foreign nationals and those with fake documents and when people have to account they plead ignorance. By hiring undocumented illegal foreigners and those producing fake documents, this therefore means that the same workers are not protected and registered for social coverage like Unemployment Insurance Fund and for Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA).

“Submitting false and misleading information is a serious offence and is punishable by law."

He said if a company can risk hiring people with fake documents, it meant that "by implication they can take the risks and not comply with labour laws".

Thejane said: "A prohibition notice was issued because workers were exposed to hazardous dusts particles from steel, high decibels [noise levels], workers not furnished with protective personal equipment. In terms of COIDA, NJR Steel-Brakpan was found to be owing R17,584,70 and was issued with compliance order.

"For Occupational Health and Safety, the company was issued with prohibition notices as its forklifts have not been load tested, its fire extinguishers were obstructed by material, gas installations do not have certificate of compliance, employees have not undergone medical surveillance. For Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the company was issued with compliance order for failing to provide relevant documents relating to contracts, payslips, attendance register among others.

"For UIF [unemployment insurance fund], there was no evidence that the employer had submitted declarations for March 2024," Thejane said.

He said four people arrested were subjected to fines after admitting guilt.

"In terms of Employment Services (ES) Act, an employer may not employ a foreign national within the territory of the Republic of South Africa prior to such foreign national producing an applicable and valid work permit, issued in terms of the Immigration Act.

"According to the ES Act any employer that contravenes Section 8 shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment as contemplated in Immigration Act," Thejane said.

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