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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

South Africa deports 13 Swazis

This year only, officials of the Swaziland Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa have made seven visits to the Lindelani Holding Facility also known as the Lindelani Repatriation Centre to check on Swazis were detained there.
In the recent visit last month, officials found 13 Swazis detained at the facility for remaining in South Africa without proper documentation.


The Lindela detention and repatriation facility, located 30 kilometres north of Johannesburg, is a privately run facility established in 1996 by the Department of Home Affairs and the Dyambu Trust—an organisation established by the African National Congress women’s league as an experimental centre for undocumented immigrants slated for deportation that also aims at relieving overcrowding in nearby Gauteng prison.
Illegal immigrants rounded up in South African cities are kept here awaiting deportation, which is facilitated by their respective countries’ embassies and consulates.
According to Swaziland’s Consular S’gayoyo Magongo, the last visit was made in August, where they found 13 Swazis who were detained at the centre.  Speaking from the Johannesburg Consulate yesterday, Magongo mentioned that the numbers seemed to be growing and the Swazis found there were then sent back home.
“Even though we do not have a budget for this, we have no alternative but to facilitate their return home. We process emergency papers for the border, pay for kombi transport, food and bus fare to take them to their respective areas, averagely we spend around E600 per person,” said the former minister.
He mentioned that a majority of them were from the Shiselweni region, adding that this was probably due to the fact that it was easier to cross using the informal crossing points.
 “Some are arrested in the Gauteng city streets without passports while others have documents whose days in South Africa had long elapsed. When we talk to them, all of them cite unemployment and poverty back home, and they come to South Africa with the hope of changing their fortunes.” he said.
Magongo said they had also noticed a growing trend of repeat offenders. “Again, when we ask, they say they would rather die looking for employment in South Africa than face the bleak prospects back home,” said Magongo.
“Most are young males while there are few women who are detained at the centre. No one has ever said he had come to South Africa to look for relatives or given any other reason, except for the employment one,” he said.
Magongo said they began visiting the centre in April. Recently, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Lutfo Dlamini told Senate that there was not much his ministry could do to help these people except to facilitate their return as they had been found in that country illegally. 


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