Original Research

The golden opportunity: Recruitment of “foreigners” into the Witwatersrand by mining corporations, 1913-1933

Amanda T. Mangena
New Contree | Vol 89 | a236 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.54146/newcontree/2022/89/05 | © 2023 Amanda T. Mangena | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 March 2023 | Published: 30 December 2022

About the author(s)

Amanda T. Mangena, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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In this article the strategies used by mining corporations to facilitate the illegal entry of mine-workers into South Africa between 1913 and 1933 are discussed. In 1913 the government banned the outsourcing of mine-workers from areas that were located north of the 22 degrees line of latitude, but despite this, mining corporations devised ways of sourcing cheap labour to maximise their profits. These workers were referred to as “tropical migrants” and were brought in from neighbouring British colonies and the Portuguese East Colony. Through the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association (WNLA)’s efforts to provide stable workforce and maximise its profits, the prevalence of illegal recruiters bringing in tropical migrants was discouraged. In this article I discuss how the mining corporations facilitated the illegal entry of workers into the country and investigate the role played by WNLA, which benefited immensely from the cheap labour provided by foreign mine-workers.


Migrant labour; Mine-workers; Mine-owners; Migrants; Illegal immigrants; Witwatersrand; Union of South Africa


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