City of JohannesburgTo Register Buildings That House Migrants

Johannesburg - The City of Johannesburg is to introduce a system that requires properties and facilities that house migrants to be registered with the city.

Speaking shortly after the Johannesburg Migration Advisory Committee (JMAC) met on Tuesday, Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo said the committee was considering steps to regulate the provision of shelter to migrants. The committee has been tasked with developing a strategy to promote the integration of migrants in the city.

"A credible system of registration will also eradicate exploitation of migrants by unscrupulous landlords and ensure that such housing facilities meet the required minimum standards," Masando said.

The regulations would allow for buildings that house migrants to be monitored to ensure that the required registers, in terms of the Immigration Act, were being kept. The buildings would also be examined for public health by-laws adherence.

Masondo said the city wanted to clamp down on unsafe living quarters for migrants. "These measures will be introduced in a consultative manner to ensure that it will not raise fears or concerns of potential victimisation," he added.

The city also intends to have a data collection system that will allow it to gather statistics on migrants' movements in Johannesburg. This information will be used to allocate resources and to help integrate migrants into local communities.

Measures to improve migrants' access to basic human services such as healthcare, electricity, water, transitional shelter, banking and education, would also be implemented. Masondo added that the city had a responsibility to ensure that everyone who lived in it had a decent quality of life.

He stressed that the work the city was doing was aimed not just migrants who came from across the country's borders, but also those who came to the city from other provinces.

Pastor Thomas Kitutu, chairperson of the JMAC and a Congolese refugee who has been living in South Africa for the past 15 years, congratulated the City of Johannesburg for it efforts aimed at improving the lives of migrants. He said many migrants came to South Africa to flee conflicts in their home countries and as the situation in many African countries improved, many returned home.

Kitutu urged the city not to view migrants or the issues facing them as a challenge but as an opportunity. - BuaNews