Malawi embassy in South Africa dismiss Lindela Camp claims

By Ulemu Teputepu, Nyasa Times

The Malawi Embassy in South Africa has dismissed reports that its citizens who are detained at the Lindela Repatriation Centre near Krugersdorp, South Africa for illegally staying in that country are being ill-treated by immigration officials.

The embassy was reacting to reports that Malawians detained at the camp are living in degrading, inhuman and life-threatening conditions.

One Malawian awaiting deportation at the camp told Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), they were terribly starving and several of their countrymen had already died due to lack of medical assistance.

“We have been seeking help from the Malawi embassy but to no avail,” said the Malawian from Dowa but did not mention her name.

indela Repatriation Centre is a privately owned deportation centre outside Krugersdorp in South Africa.  The former mining hostel building is owned by the ANC Women’s League and has become notorious for human rights abuses against suspected ‘illegal’ immigrants and bribery

Lindela Repatriation Centre  has become notorious for human rights abuses against suspected ‘illegal’ immigrants

But reacting to the news, Malawi’s Deputy High Commissioner to South Africa, Alexious Godia described the claims as untrue.

He alleged that all Malawians being detained at the Lindela camp are well taken care by the South African government.

“We do follow up these issues and our officers visit Lindela camp every Wednesday to make sure that our citizens are in good hands,” disclosed Godia.

The deputy commissioner said there were 583 Malawians on the waiting list to be deported back to Malawi.

“From the month of December, the South African government has deported 1 322 and now there are close to 583 Malawians who are still detained there,” explained Godia.

Responding to the Malawi Government was doing to speed up the repatriation process of its citizens, Godia said according to law it as only the South African government that was mandated to deport the detained illegal immigrants.

“ It is the South African government which is mandated to transport them back home , we only focus on humanitarian issues to make sure that our citizens are well taken care of,” he said.

Currently, Godia said, the South African government is waiting for resources to transport to Malawi the 583 illegal immigrants.

A man who was already deported to Malawi and came through Lindela camp described the situation at the centre as terrible.

He said the “concentration” camp is overcrowded and called it a “death trap.”

Lindela Repatriation Centre has become notorious for human rights abuses against suspected illegal immigrants, according to most detainees there.

For sometime the centre has been strongly criticized for abuse of detainees with pressure groups and rights activists raising serious concerns about human rights violations of the detains.

Hundreds of young Malawians trek to South Africa, the continent’s economic giant, in search of greener pastures.

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