Game Over for unlicensed spaza shops owned by foreigners and locals: Aaron Motsoaledi reveals

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Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi says bylaws for the licensing of spaza shops should be enforced without fear or favour, regardless of whether they’re owned by SA citizens or foreigners.

Motsoaledi was speaking in parliament about border management authority and the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on SA’s economy.

He said if government emphasised bylaws for the licensing of spaza shops in townships, issues of illegal employment and operation, among others, would be avoided.

“Some of these issues have to do with bylaws. It is global practice around the world that when you establish a spaza shop or any business, you must be licensed by the local authority,” he said.

Motsoaledi said in SA spaza shops were not licensed and local municipalities were not doing anything about it.

“Whether you are South African or not, if you own a spaza shop it must be licensed and everyone must know about its existence. It must register for tax,” said Motsoaledi.

“I wrote to the SA Local Government Association years back, asking them to ensure municipalities implement bylaws without fear of favour.

“How do you open a spaza shop, stay in the same shop, eat in the shop, sleep in the shop and hold a church service in the same shop without the local authority raising eyebrows?” he asked.

Motsoaledi dismissed claims that South Africans in townships are driven by xenophobia, saying they are frustrated by high levels of lack of employment in South Africa and limited opportunities.

“In our different institutions, such as hospitals, universities and finance, we have a lot of people from other countries, especially from the continent. Some are even heads of our institutions.

“No-one is fighting them simply because they come from other countries. The battle is raging in townships among the poorest of the poor who are fighting for economic survival.”

He said the border management authority will keep track of foreigners coming into SA to make sure they are documented.

Speaking on 702 earlier this week, Motsoaledi said he hoped by July the authority will become “a 3D entity”.

“We’re hoping by July this year the structure will enlist to become a 3D entity, meaning it will be a stand-alone authority. At the moment it falls under the department of home affairs.”

Motsoaledi said it is impossible to know how many illegal foreign nationals are in SA.

He said based on studies carried out by Stats SA, there are about 3.5-million foreign nationals in the country.

“People who come in illegally arrive in a style in which they don’t want to be known. They don’t want to be documented or registered. How can we know about them? If we knew about them they would not be illegal.”

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