The History of Labour Hire in Namibia: A Lesson for South Africa

  • Anri Botes North-West University(Potchefstroom Campus)
Keywords: Labour hire, Namibia, temporary employees, exploitation of contract labour system, SWANLA, Namibian Labour Act, labour hire banned, regulation of Africa Personnel Services, Labour Amendment Act, Employment Services Act, labour brokers, South Africa, preca


Labour hire, the practice of hiring out employees to clients by a labour broker, has been a part of Namibia’s history since the early 1900s in the form of the contract labour system. This form of employment was characterized by inhumanity and unfair labour practices. These employees were subjected to harsh working conditions, inhumane living conditions and influx control. The contract labour system continued until 1977, when it was abolished by the General Law Amendment Proclamation of 1977. It was during the 1990s that the hiring out of employees returned in the form of labour hire. It continued in this form without being regulated until it was banned in the Namibian Labour Act of 2007. In 2009 Africa Personnel Services, Namibia’s largest labour broker, brought a case before the court against the Namibian Government in an attempt to have the ban nullified on grounds of unconstitutionality. It argued that the ban infringed on its right to carry on any trade or business of its choice as contained in section 21(1)(j) of the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia. APS triumphed. It was not until April 2012 that new legislation was promulgated in order to officially lift the ban and to regulate labour hire in its current form. This new legislation came into force in August 2012. Various very important provisions are contained in the Labour Amendment Act 2 of 2012 concerning labour brokers. Part IV of the Employment Services Act 8 of 2011, containing provisions for the regulation of labour brokers as juristic persons per se, was also introduced and came into force in September 2012. The aim of this note is to serve as a lesson to the South African government as to what could happen if labour brokers continue without legislation properly addressing the pitfalls associated with labour brokers. Also, it could serve as an example as to how the employees of a labour broker should be protected. In this regard the history of labour hire and the current strides in Namibia cannot be ignored.




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Register of cases

Africa Personnel Services (Pty) Ltd v Government of the Republic of Namibia 2011 1 BLLR 15 (NmS)

April and Workforce Group Holdings t/a The Workforce Group 2005 26 ILJ 2224 (CCMA)

Mahesu v Red Alert TSS (Pty) Ltd 2011 12 BALR 1306 (CCMA)

Mahlamu v CCMA 2011 4 BLLR 381 (LC)

Midway Two Engineering and Construction Services Bk v Transnet Bpk 1998 2 All SA 451 (LC)

NAPE v INTCS Corporate Solutions 2010 31 ILJ 2120 (LC)

Nkosi v Fidelity Security Services 2012 4 BALR 432 (CCMA)

SA Post Office v Mampeule 2009 8 BLLR 792 (LC)

Register of legislation


Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, 1990

General Law Amendment Proclamation AG 5 of 1977

Labour Act, 1992

Labour Act, 2004

Labour Act, 2007

Labour Amendment Act 2 of 2012

Prohibited Areas Proclamation, 1928

Native Administration Proclamation, 1922

Native Passes Proclamation, 1930

Natives (Urban Areas) Proclamation, 1951

South Africa

Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 van 1997

Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998

Employment Services Act 8 of 2011

Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995

Register of internet sources

ILO Date unknown

International Labour Organisation Date unknown Subcontracting [date of use 23 Feb 2012]

Mbwalala 2012

Mbwalala RN 2012 Namibia: New Amendment Bill and Future of Labour Hire [date of use 23 Feb 2012]

Medley 2012

Medley L 2012 March Against Labour Brokers [date of use 19 Apr 2012]

Ngatjizeko 2012

Ngatjizeko I 2012 Media Briefing by the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Concerning the Implementation of Legislation Regulating Private Employment Agencies and Aspects of the Employment Relationship: Labour Amendment Act 2 of 2012 and Part IV of the Employment Services Act 8 of 2011 and Related Sections (26 July 2012) [date of use 23 Sep 2012]

SAPA 2012

SAPA 2012 Strike Against Labour Brokers to Go Ahead [date of use 23 Feb 2012]

How to Cite
BotesA. (2017). The History of Labour Hire in Namibia: A Lesson for South Africa. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 16(1), 505-536.