13/03/2017 10:36 SAST | Updated 13/03/2017 12:44 SAST

Mashaba Says Those Against His City Of Joburg's Rules Are Direct Beneficiaries Of Criminality

The City of Joburg has always been open to immigrants. It is criminal elements -- both foreigners and South Africans -- that we are targeting, says Mashaba.

The only people who are against what the City of Johannesburg is demanding about crime and the rule of law are direct beneficiaries of criminality, Mayor Herman Mashaba has told The Huffington Post South Africa.

"We cannot allow our country to be run and controlled by people who benefit out of criminal elements then criticise us for calling for the rule of law," he said.

Responding to widespread criticism of his comments on illegal immigrants in Johannesburg, he said: "A big number of our foreign colleagues are law-abiding citizens who are adding to the socio-economic survival of this city and we need them, but there are criminal elements, both foreigners and South Africans, and I believe we have the right to prosecute them".

"For over 130 years, the City of Johannesburg has been built on the back of foreign people coming to this country. We want people to invest in our city, to come and work in our city, however we're asking you to come in legally and respect our laws," he said.

Mashaba has come under fire in recent months over comments about 'illegal immigrants' made in December, and was blamed by the African National Congress and the Africa Diaspora Forum for inciting xenophobic violence in February.

On Friday, Mashaba told members of the Kya Sand business community foreign nationals must be documented as this will assist law enforcement officers when crimes are blamed on foreigners, according to an EWN report.

Mashaba said he has clarified his position repeatedly and is adamant his comments did not incite the recent spate of xenophobic violence in Gauteng.