Foreign nationals outside the Johannesburg Magistrate's court picket for the release of their countrymen who were detained by the SA police during raids on shops selling counterfeit goods. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - About 30 undocumented foreign nationals are desperate to return to their home countries after being arrested by the Department of Home Affairs more than seven months ago and being moved to and from Westville Prison and other police stations.

From a room in the immigration office at Home Affairs in uMgeni Road, Durban, a desperate foreigner called the Daily News. 

The man, who did not want to be named, said nearly 30 had been arrested in January because they did not have the correct papers.

They are from Burundi, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Uganda and other African countries.

He said after they were arrested, they appeared in court and some were sentenced to either three or six months in jail. “When we finished serving our time in Westville, Home Affairs took us, then put us in the police station and told us we were waiting for deportation and Wednesday they took us to Umgeni Home Affairs. Until now, they haven’t given us food and water.”

He claimed they had spent more than 120 days at SAPS Durban Central or Pinetown.

“We’ve finished our sentences. We want to go back to our country. They’re keeping us here like we’re chickens or robbers and killers.”

Lawyers for Human Rights attorney Thandeka Zondi said: “In KwaZulu-Natal, first they charge you criminally, then you are sentenced and you spend between three and six months in jail. Then you are released to Home Affairs immigration office where you are detained, but not for more than 120 days.”

Home Affairs provincial manager Cyril Mncwabe said there was direct and indirect deportation. Direct was when the person is taken to the border gates. Indirect, he said, was when they had to transport the illegal foreigners to Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp, and transported to their countries, which was costly.

“Those people had to be deported yesterday (Wednesday) but the car was full, so they will be deported on Tuesday.”

Daily News