Political parties call for overhaul of country's immigration system

In a statement, Home Affairs said the escape happened on March 17.

In a statement, Home Affairs said the escape happened on March 17.

Published Mar 25, 2024


Political parties have called for an overhaul of the country’s immigration system after 69 undocumented foreign nationals escaped from the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Gauteng last week.

IFP spokesperson on Home Affairs, Liezl van der Merwe, said the IFP was shocked but not surprised by the escape of the migrants.

“For some time, we have had concerns regarding the management and operations at the centre.

However, the escape points to a bigger crisis: a complete collapse of South Africa’s immigration system.”

Van der Merwe added that the IFP had dedicated a section in its 2024 election manifesto to the crisis around illegal immigration.

“It is clear that too many undocumented migrants are within our borders, which poses a serious safety and security risk to the state, and the citizens of our country.

“The Department of Home Affairs is clearly unable to manage the influx of illegal migrants and is equally unable to successfully manage the deportation of these undocumented persons.”

Van der Merwe said that they welcomed the Department’s under taking to investigate the escape and scrutinise the EnvironMongz contract with Lindela.

“It is clear the contract must be terminated without further delay.

“The escape of these undocumented persons underscores again the need for an urgent and total overhaul of South Africa’s immigration system. A stand-alone Immigration Inspectorate must be established.”

Lerato Ngobeni, ActionSA spokesperson, said she agreed that there needed to be an overhaul of South Africa’s immigration system.

“There are problems with our deportation centres and they simply can’t deal with the amount of illegal immigrants in South Africa.

“The Department of Home Affairs can’t be simply shifting blame to the security company for this escape, we did the same thing when Thabo Bester escaped, drastic intervention needs to take place.”

Ngobeni added that there also needed to be a review of staff that work at deportation centres and Home Affairs.

“I believe that the escape of the 69 undocumented foreign nationals was an inside job. There was no way that 69 people could escape without the assistance of inside staff, maybe one or two escapees we would understand but not 69.

We need the staff to be reviewed and those involved in corruption to be rooted out.”

In a statement, Home Affairs said the escape happened on March 17.

It said the centre is managed by facilities management company, EnvironMongz, which also provides security.

Home Affairs added that their investigation revealed there was an altercation between the inmates and EnvironMongz management and its security team.

“It was during this altercation that 69 undocumented foreign nationals escaped. The department is unhappy about the circumstances and the manner under which this escape happened.”

The department added that two security officers were arrested, one escapee had been found while the others were being sought.

The Mercury