Lindela centre in ‘good state’ despite illegal immigrants escaping

11 May 2020 - 13:53 By Iavan Pijoos
Bongani Bongo, who chairs the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on home affairs, did a site inspection at the centre following the recent escape of illegal foreigners.
Bongani Bongo, who chairs the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on home affairs, did a site inspection at the centre following the recent escape of illegal foreigners.
Image: Iavan Pijoos

The Lindela Repatriation Centre is in “good standing” and the health systems inside are “quite impressive”, ANC MP and former state security minister Bongani Bongo said on Monday morning.

Bongo, who chairs the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on home affairs, was speaking after a site inspection at the centre.

At least 37 illegal foreigners escaped from the centre on May 3 after allegedly being helped by security guards contracted by a private company.

“What we have told is that the security staff had a payment problem with their boss. They decided to knock off earlier than the time they were supposed to knock off . They informed the deportees and the deportees decided to run away,” Bongo told media outside the centre.

Bongo said his department had seen CCTV footage and those implicated would be dealt with.

He said two employees had since been suspended and would face disciplinary action.

Despite the escape by the undocumented migrants, Bongo said the facility was in a “good state”.

“We are quite happy with the progress we have seen inside. The department [home affairs] is doing what it is supposed to do. The health system inside is quite impressive. The department has provided all with personal protective equipment (PPE), and compliance is very impressive in terms of the PPEs.”

Bongo said more than 900 illegal migrants were deported back to Mozambique, Lesotho and Zimbabwe at the weekend.

Just over 500 deportees, mainly from Malawi, remained at the centre.

Bongo said it may “be difficult” to comply with social distancing while they await the deportation of the remaining group.

The Krugersdorp property, which houses undocumented migrants pending their deportation, was auctioned for R60m last year as part of the assets belonging to the now liquidated African Global Operations, formerly known as Bosasa.

“The department is trying to liaise with the liquidator to find a lasting solution in terms of contractual liability. As a portfolio committee, we advised  long ago that this facility must be bought by government.”

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