Minister Nxesi’s keynote address at the launch and handover of the Malelane Labour Centre in Mpumalanga.
17 March 2022




  • Programme director

  • Mayor of the Nkomazi Local Municipality

  • Chief Director of Provincial Operations

  • DG

  • Inspector General

  • Officials of the Department

  • Ladies and gentleman


Let me also thank the various stakeholders that have assisted in facilitating this event:


  • Nkomazi Local Municipality

  • The Chamber of Commerce

  • Business organisations and people: RCL, Agri-Forum, TS GRO, Malelane Farmer’s Association, the Kruger National Park

  • Radio station – Nkomazi FM

  • SEDA

  • The Post Office

  • GCIS

  • Organized Labour

  • GOVERNMENT DEPTARTMENTS: Health, Social Development, Home Affairs, SAPS, Education, Safety and Security, SASSA, Justice, and COGTA​

  • Traditional Authorities: (Mlambo Tribal authority, Mawewe Tribal authority, Lomshiyo TrIbal authority, Siboshwa Tribal authority, Kwa-Lugedlane TrIbal authority, Hhoyi Tribal authority, and Matsamo Tribal authority)

Welcome all and thanks to those who organised this important event.


The purpose of this event is to launch the newly refurbished Malelane Labour Centre – which was found to be non-compliant with Occupational Health and Safety legislation and was subsequently prohibited by our own Department’s OHS Specialist on the 16th of August 2018.


The prohibition notice was a wake-up call for Management and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, in terms of the need to find safe and conducive office space for clients and officials . The appropriate space was found on the ground floor of the same building.


The Department of Employment and Labour in collaboration with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure worked tirelessly to ensure that the project timelines were met. Handover was scheduled for January 2022. However, here I am in March 2022 – so not too bad.


The Labour Centre provides the following services:


  • UIF applications including a mobile office

  • COID applications – Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases

  • Public Employment Services – to register for job and training opportunities

  • Inspection and Enforcement Services – the Labour Inspectors who ensure compliance with labour legislation – basic conditions, minimum wage, employment equity, and health and safety. Their work was critical during the pandemic in keeping workplaces and workers safe.


The Labour Centre has to serve a large area with a high number of unemployed: 38,000 with a further 18,000 discouraged workers as against 73,000 in employment. Malelane Labour Centre is servicing the entire Nkomazi Local Municipality and has 7 visiting points which are all serviced once per week, and located in Malelane, Block B, Matsamo, Mbagwane, Masibekela, Kamhlushwa, Magogeni and Komatipoort – collectively servicing some 600 clients per week. As the Province our wish is to also have a Satellite office at Tonga that will operate every day, and is central to almost all the villages.


I mentioned the important role of the Labour Inspectors during the pandemic – they also work with other relevant authorities to enforce existing labour law and migration legislation – ensuring that employers do not employ unregistered foreign workers – usually under conditions of exploitation. This week they have been hard at work in Limpopo conducting a mega blitz inspection in the Hospitality, Road Freight, and Logistics sectors.


Inspector General, Aggy Moiloa, warned non-compliant employers that inspectors would return soon for a follow-up inspection following the mega blitz inspection - carried out in collaboration with the Department of Home Affairs immigration services and South African Police Services (SAPS). As of 04 March 2022, a total of 672 workplace inspections were carried out, 55 percent (364) of the employers inspected were non-compliant, resulting in 232 contravention notices being issued.


According to the Inspector-General, "the majority of those areas inspected are operating without a risk assessment, which is a blueprint of a workplace, which is an indication of non-compliance. Their health and safety compliance officers are certified, but they are not on the job".


She stated that the department received a lot of criticism for announcing inspections, but the approach of announcing in advance has advantages and disadvantages. According to the Inspector General, "our inspections are highly administrative; for the inspection to be thorough, we require certain documents such as a detailed payroll, UIF documents, compliance with the national minimum wage, and the presence of employers.


When we go to a prepared workplace, we can usually conduct a fruitful inspection; however, we can tell when employers have cleaned up the workplace. We have a method of detecting doctored documents, and it does not preclude unannounced inspections in cases of child labour or worker abuse".


For the mega blitz, the province’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) compliance rate is 23%. Inspectors issued contravention notices to employers, requiring them to correct the non-compliance within sixty days. When the period expires, an unannounced inspection will be conducted to determine whether employers implemented the notice, and if not, a prohibition notice will be issued, followed by prosecution if necessary.


According to analysis, the Department’s inspectors discovered that most employers are sitting on a ticking time bomb because the Act is not being followed in the majority of workplaces. Most companies visited have a high risk of fatal electrical incidents due to a lack of qualified electricians employed to install electricity. The Department advised employers to stop using employees who are not registered to install electricity, as this increases the risk of fatal incidents.


According to Albert Matsaung, Provincial Manager of Home Affairs, "part of the joint operation was to assess the areas that employed foreigners, and we found that they mostly have the correct documentation". Inspectors did, however, discover employees working without documentation, though the numbers were not particularly high. We discovered 5 illegal employees who lacked proper documentation; three employers were arrested and faced charges of violating laws, and the employees are detained and awaiting a court date.


I should add, that increased inspection and enforcement contributes to the new National Labour Migration Policy that government has developed and which has now been tabled for public comment over a period of 90 days. I encourage all interested parties to read the document and submit feedback.


Let me sound a note of caution. The South African constitution and labour legislation provides labour rights and protections to all workers, irrespective of country of origin. So we must start by condemning, unequivocally, the efforts of populist politicians to whip up xenophobic sentiment – with unlawful inspections and intimidation of people in the workplace and the community. This is rank opportunism and it is also dangerous. So we must unite in condemning the violent Dudula campaign against non-nationals, and the SAPS must do their work to apprehend criminals and protect all the people.


We have researched extensively and benchmarked internationally in search of policy based on best practice. In summary, the National Labour Migration Policy aims to achieve a balance between the following:


  • The population’s expectations regarding accessibility to work for South Africans, given worsening unemployment and a perception that undocumented foreigners are distorting labour market access;

  • South Africa’s labour market needs, in particular the need for critical skills not locally available;

  • The protection of migrant workers and their families, in accordance with international standards and guidelines; and ​

  • Regional integration and cooperation imperatives.


Again, I invite all interested parties to engage with the Policy and to provide their feedback in the 90 days allowed for public comment.


Meanwhile, let us celebrate the opening of this fit-for purpose Labour Centre – and dedicate it to the work of serving the people of Nkomazi.


Thank you.