- Under the banner of #PutSouthAfricansFirst, Nelson Mandela Metro Community Forum members protested outside the Alurite plant in Gqeberha on Tuesday.
- The protesters want to force the company to employ South Africans and not immigrants.
- The Zimbabwe Migrants Support Network says the protest put “people in danger of being attacked”.
Members of the Nelson Mandela Metro Community Forum in Gqeberha have vowed to stop Alurite (Pty) Ltd, a metal and plastic recycling facility, from functioning, because it employs immigrants.
On Tuesday about forty people protested for the second time outside the company demanding it dismiss immigrants and employ South Africans. The previous protest was on 21 October.
The protesters held a huge, professionally printed banner on which was written in capital letters: “#PutSouthAfricansFirst. Secure our borders now!!! South Africa is not a refugee camp. Jobs and business opportunities for South Africans first.”
Protest leader Sibusiso Matyolo said, “We are saying that unemployment in the metro is very high. This company employs more foreigners than local South Africans. We are demanding that they should change the ratio of employment in favour of South Africans. There are many graduates who are sitting at home without jobs.”
He said they had information that there were twice as many immigrants as locals working at the company.
“We will continue protesting at the main gate of the company until our demands are met. We will call all unemployed residents of the metro to come and camp outside here. We are planning a major shut down to force the company to listen to our demands.”
According to Matyolo, they returned to the site at 6pm to block workers from starting their night shift. He said police arrived and fired rubber bullets.
Protester Siphokazi Tsewu said, “I am unemployed and need a job. I stay in Motherwell with my two sisters who are also not working. We have six children between us who need food and clothing, but we can’t afford that because we are not employed, yet this company employs foreign immigrants instead of us.”
Chris Mapingure, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Migrants Support Network, said the banner and the protest were dangerous and “causing tensions in our peaceful communities”.
“We strongly condemn actions that place other people in danger of being attacked or assaulted. Most of our members have either work, business or asylum permits.”
“The country’s laws allow companies to employ people with requisite qualifications and experience,” he said.
Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said, “About 40 people were protesting outside a company while the Public Order Police officers were monitoring.”
On its website, Alurite says: “Our recycling facility helps to create employment which aids domestic growth. We proudly employ in excess of 100 people and are fully committed to our employees, supplying regular training sessions in recycling processes at our facility.”
Alurite had not commented at the time of publication, but its legal representative was attempting to make contact with the protest leaders.