Former Mayor of Johanesburg and ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba is blaming government for the Bushiris’ illegal stay in South Africa and the problem of illegal migrants, in general.

The anti-illegal migrant activist was reacting to news that Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, are in South Africa unlawfully.

They apparently entered the country using visitors’ visas in 2009 and conducted business with it – violating the Immigration Act.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi revealed this to the public broadcaster this week.

Mashaba says government has been ignoring the illegal activities taking place at home affairs.

“Look at how they gave the Guptas citizenship. How the Defence Minister brought her son’s girlfriend to the country without the correct papers for example…I can count many other cases,” he told Local Voices.

The Former Johannesburg Mayor wants to see accountability.

“Those who are responsible for this must be held to account.”

He urges authorities to deport migrants who are convicted of crime.

“We as South Africans welcome the people of the world and believe that they should be encouraged to come here legally. If they do not adhere to the laws of this country – they must be sent back to their countries of origins. We cannot afford to take care of criminals with the taxpayers’ money when South Africans are poor.

Mashaba says his party is still forging ahead with its bid to run for next year’s local government elections.

They are setting their sights on the City of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.

ActionSA launched an appeal with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on Tuesday after it initially rejected the organisation’s application to formally register as a political party.

The IEC cited ActionSA’s logo as the reason for this, saying it resembled that of Party of Action (POA) that also depicts an image of the South African flag.

The Former Johannesburg Mayor is upbeat that their wish will come true.

He is urging South Africans to give them a chance at the polls, saying they will fast-track service delivery in the three cities.

They also have big plans for South Africa.

“Give us the mandate in 2024. We are going to do an audit of citizenships awarded since 1994. We will start with the Guptas. Even migrants who commit crimes here. We will give them a fair hearing but we will send them to serve their sentences in their countries. We will sentence you but we will not take care of you. If your government wants you to serve your sentence here, they will have to pay for those expenses,” he says.

Mashaba is known for his no-nonsense stance on illegal migrants.

While still the Johannesburg Mayor – he often got into trouble for his claims that the influx of African migrants in the city has led to a spike in crime in the Joburg CBD. His administration said illegal immigration compounded serious challenges in the provision of basic services and temporary emergency accommodation (TEA) to residents.

Despite sustained backlash over this, Mashaba remains defiant – saying foreign nationals, especially with scarce skills, are welcomed to stay in the country – but they must do so lawfully.

The Bushiris and their three co-accused will meanwhile return to the High Court Pretoria on Friday over charges unrelated to their documents.

They have been charged with R100 million fraud, money laundering and the contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crimes Act.

The case has divided South Africans. His supporters believe that the self-proclaimed prophet is being unfairly targetted, while others say he must be held to account for allegedly swindling his flock’s money.