City of Ekurhuleni targets spaza shops, arrests 27 immigrants

Immigration officers arrested 27 allegedly undocumented immigrants on Thursday during a joint operation by the City of Ekurhuleni, the Department of Home Affairs and the police.

The aim of the operation was to check spaza shops for counterfeit and expired goods, City spokesperson Phakamile Mbengashe said. Executive Mayor Mzwandile Masina was also a part of the operation. 

The operation also led to the arrest of five shop owners, allegedly for employing undocumented foreign immigrants in contravention of the Immigration Act.

"About 13 shops were thoroughly inspected, out of which 12 were issued with notices of intended prosecution for failure to produce a certificate of acceptability. All 12 shops were closed immediately," Mbengashe said. 

"Some of the health hazard items included meat packages that did not indicate sell-by dates, illicit cigarettes, expired and rotten food, unlabelled frozen mixed veggies, amongst others," Mbengashe added.

Mbengashe said the items were confiscated and were scheduled to be destroyed on Friday. 

Masina addressed the community of Ramaphosa in Boksburg, saying they were not there to "perpetrate wrong things" and to victimise foreign nationals. 

He said they would not tolerate individuals who were not prepared to adhere to the laws of the country. 

"We have come to appreciate that this is bigger than we have thought and it requires a sustainable programme, which we will soon announce. It is disturbing that out of the 13 shops inspected, we filled to capacity three eight-ton trucks with confiscated material," Masina said. 

According to Mbengashe, Masina is expected to lead another operation in Tembisa on Friday.