n South African Journal of Criminal Justice - Dealing with an economic crisis : the difficulty of policing illegal immigrants in South Africa

Volume 23, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-8527
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2118



Most illegal immigrants in South Africa are people who embarked on a dangerous journey of crossing the border, running away from perilous political and economic conditions with the hope of improving their situation across the borders. The successful crossing of the border turns these people into violators of immigration laws in the perceived country of survival. Despite having to continuously evade the police because of their illegal status, they also tend to be victims of xenophobia, crime and labour exploitation. The presence of illegal immigrants in the country cannot be divorced from policing. First, the police have an obligation to arrest and deport those who are in the country illegally, although deportation is perceived by many people to be a costly and ineffective exercise because illegal immigrants find their way back to South Africa. Secondly, the vulnerability of illegal immigrants to crime accentuates their need for police protection, protection they do not initiate because it will result in their deportation. This paper deals with the difficulty encountered in policing these illegal immigrants. It considers the obligation of protecting the country and its citizenry against the influx of illegal immigrants, and evidence reveals that some of them are involved in criminal activities. Nonetheless, illegal immigrants need protection against the violation of their constitutional rights. The discussion will be based in the broader context of indicating the shortfalls of using the police to solve the political and economic crises.

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