Porous borders are endangering country’s economy, says Maqubela

Two things that the government must do if it hopes to curb crime in the country – first it must deal with the question of open and porous borders, and second, it must end loadshedding as soon as possible.

In an exclusive and wide-ranging interview with the owner of Sakhumzi restaurant, Vilakazi Street, Orlando West, Sakhumzi Maqubela told Sunday World there was no two ways about it, and that the government must act as quickly as possible to attend to the two “scourges” that are detrimental to economic growth.

“When you complain about open and porous borders, some are quick to label you as xenophobic. There is nothing like that, no self-respecting country should allow its borders to be open, and not guarded 24/7.

“In Italy, for example, strict border control regulations are applied, and that is why over the years Italy has experienced a declining crime rate. Our government needs to do the same.

“Undocumented foreigners are a problem in this country. The government must take the necessary and urgent steps to arrest the situation before it gets worse,” Maqubela said.

Maqubela, who is also a chairperson of the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce, Soweto Western Region, said his filling station had recently been burgled, and that the townships’ ATM facilities were regularly “bombed, and the question to be asked is: who is doing these things with such military precision?

“If as a country we cannot find answers to these questions, we are all in big trouble,” he said.

“If we allow undocumented persons to have a free pass in the country, we are encouraging criminal activities the country will have difficult to curb in the future. The government must act now to ensure that we are protected from the rampant crime that would ensue if we do not act decisively,” he said.

He complained that foreigners were allowed to have a free pass, and in some instances, were given licences to operate security companies.

“It just does not make sense to offer licences to foreign nationals to operate security companies. If we do that, then we will foment chaos and violence we will have no capacity to control,” he said.

“We all have to be worried if we allow foreigners to own security companies,” he said.

“The government must do everything in its power to secure and protect our borders, and to ensure illegal immigrants do not enter the country, and that failure to do so will increase the level of crime, and put local businesses under severe stress,” he said.

Maqubela, who also disclosed that this month, his business would spread its wings, opening eatery branches in Phefeni, Soweto, and Zoo Lake, Parkview, is advocating for visible policing in all black townships, arguing that police presence does act as a deterrence to crime.

He said if there was no visible police presence, there was always temptation for communities to take the law into their own hands. This, he said, was prompted by the realisation that policing was slack, and that as communities and black business “we are on our own”.

“We are excited about the developments in my organisation. The new branches will employ at least 150 employees, a move that will go a long way towards helping to reduce unemployment rate in the country.”

While black business is committed to helping to create jobs, “our efforts are somewhat sabotaged by the unending loadshedding, and we would urge Eskom and the government to work together to end this scourge working against our commitment to creating jobs”.

He said because they employed township residents, most of whom do not have adequate training in business skills, business sector would urge the government, and other private agencies, to invest heavily in training young black people, most of whom do not have skills and come from poor backgrounds.

“To invest in training, and upskilling young people, would be most welcome, and we ask the government and other agencies to come to the party,” he said.

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