Scores of undocumented foreigners deported after daring escape

Minister of Home Affairs Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Minister of Home Affairs Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Published Mar 27, 2024


The department of Home Affairs has deported thousands of undocumented foreign nationals after a daring escape that took place at the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp last week.

The department confirmed last week that it would also be investigating an escape of 69 undocumented foreigners, and look into a nearly R60 million contract it pays annually to the security company that was on duty when the escape took place.

Following the incident at 11.50am on Sunday, March 17, another attempted escape took place days later where one deportee died and two security officials of the facility were arrested.

Facilities management company, EnviroMongz, that officiates as the security company is also being investigated to decide on what course to take next, meaning the department could terminate its services.

Department spokesperson Siya Qoza said 1 050 individuals were deported to Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe last week, while 622 deportees left the facility after the escape incident.

“At the time of the escape, the facility was holding 1 521 undocumented foreign nationals who were awaiting deportation. The 69 escapees were part of this group.

“Most of these 1 521 undocumented foreign nationals were scheduled to be deported this week,” Qoza said.

Despite the incident on March 17, the department was still proceeding with its scheduled plan to deport undocumented foreign nationals to their countries of origin, he said.

The scheduled deportations at the time were to Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, eSwatini and Zimbabwe.

Of those who escaped 38 were from Tanzania, 14 from Malawi, five from Zimbabwe, Lesotho claimed two while the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Mozambique each claimed three citizens and one from Nigeria.

“EnviroMongz has informed the department that earlier on Monday morning there was another attempted escape which was immediately brought under control.

“One of the deportees succumbed to injuries that allegedly happened during the second attempted escape.

“This incident is now the subject of a police investigation in addition to how the escape of March 17, 2024 occurred. As part of the probe, police have arrested two security officers and they are in custody,” Qoza said.

The department was working with other law enforcement agencies to track down the escapees. As a result, one escapee has already been rearrested,” he said.

Lindela is managed by facilities management company EnvironMongz, which also provides security services on behalf of the department.

“Our 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 because we believe enough could have been done by the management company and its security to prevent this incident. Hence, the contract is being scrutinised to decide on the best course of action”.

As an immediate intervention, the department had taken over access control and other security functions at the facility by putting in a different security company at the gate while the matter is still being investigated, he said.

The Star

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