Chaos as 69 foreigners escape from South Africa’s Lindela repatriation camp


In an incident that unfolded on Wednesday, a total of 69 foreign nationals, including five Zimbabweans, managed to escape from the Lindela Repatriation Centre, which falls under the jurisdiction of South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs. The facility, privately managed by EnvironMongz in Krugersdorp, housed a total of 1,521 detainees awaiting deportation.

Among the escapees were 38 individuals from Tanzania, 14 from Malawi, two from Mozambique, as well as citizens from Lesotho, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Nigeria.

The South African government has swiftly responded to the situation, taking measures to address the incident, including the possibility of terminating the contract with EnvironMongz, the private facilities management company responsible for Lindela.

According to a statement from the Department of Home Affairs, the escape was triggered by a confrontation between the inmates and the contracted management of the centre. The altercation resulted in the escape of the 69 undocumented foreign nationals.

The Department expressed dissatisfaction with the circumstances surrounding the incident, believing that the management company and its security team could have done more to prevent the escape. As a result, the contract is currently under scrutiny, and appropriate actions will be taken.

To address the immediate security concerns, the Department has assumed control over access and security functions at the facility, deploying a different security company at the gate while investigations continue.

Despite the escape, the Department intends to proceed with its scheduled deportation plan for the majority of the 1,521 undocumented foreign nationals. Deportations are planned for countries including Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe. A total of 622 individuals are to be repatriated to their respective countries as part of this plan.

The statement also revealed that last week, South Africa had already deported 1,050 undocumented foreigners to Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. Prior to the recent escape, EnvironMongz had informed the Department of Home Affairs about previous escape attempts, one of which had resulted in the death of an inmate.

Collaborating with other law enforcement agencies, the Department is actively working to locate the escapees, with one individual having already been re-arrested.

The situation remains fluid, and the Department of Home Affairs is committed to addressing the incident while ensuring the safety and security of the facility and its detainees.

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