Fri. Nov 27th, 2020

South Africa begins deporting mostly African migrants

The Department of Home Affairs said it had followed “due process,” adding that “the affected foreign nationals have already been transferred to Lindela Repatriation Centre.

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South African authorities have begun deporting 20 refugees and asylum seekers who were part of a months-long sit-in protest against xenophobia, the Home Affairs department said Friday.

They are mostly from African countries and demanded to be resettled outside South Africa.

“The deportation of these foreign nationals follows a successful law enforcement operation which was undertaken by the Department Inspectorate officials, supported by South African Police Service (SAPS), the City of Cape Town and the departments of Social Development and Health, at the temporary facility at Paint City in Bellville, Cape Town.”

The deportation of the 20 foreign nationals followed “due process” and was confirmed by the court on Monday and Tuesday in terms of the immigration laws of the country, the Home Affairs Department added.

Year-long protests

Their sit-in began outside the offices of the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) in Cape Town in October 2019.

Hundreds of people took part in the protest campaign which lasted five months, and saw the migrants occupy a church where they were given refuge.

At the time the migrants said they did not feel safe because of xenophobic attacks in South Africa’s townships, and that they were treated poorly and discriminated against.

Since 2008, there have been sporadic outbreaks of xenophobic violence targeting foreign nationals from the rest of the continent in townships across the country. Migrants are often targeted in the communities where they live, accused of stealing jobs and resources.

A Burundian national said she fled unrest in her home country years earlier for South Africa, a place where she thought she was safe, but was attacked and raped by a man who remained at large.

Authorities did not disclose the names nor the destination countries of the 20 people being deported, but said Canada was the preferred choice of those being deported.

The Department of Home Affairs said the affected foreign nationals have already been transferred to Lindela Repatriation Centre for deportation purposes.

eThekwini attacks

The Department also expressed concern at the events that took place in eThekwini earlier this week, where businesses owned by foreign nationals were closed down after being attacked.

“We wish to remind citizens that there are foreign nationals who are in the country legally and are allowed to conduct business in terms of the applicable laws of the country. As such, they should not be unfairly targeted simply on the basis of their nationality. South Africa has immigration laws to deal with illegal foreigners.”

The Home Affairs department urged all South Africans to not take the law into their own hands but to report any illegal person they encounter to law enforcement and Home Affairs immigration officials.

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South Africa’s asylum system in numbers

  • 18,104 asylum applications made in 2018
  • 88,694 people have refugee status in South Africa
  • Less than 1 in 6 applicants granted refugee status
  • 142,548 backlog of asylum cases home affairs considering in 2017

Source: Scalabrini

Mass deportations in May

In May, Bongani Bongo, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs of Parliament, confirmed during a visit to the Lindela Repatriation Center in Gauteng that more than 900 undocumented migrants from Southern African countries were deported to their original nations.

The visit came after 37 illegal foreigners escaped from the center.

More than 900 of people were deported to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Lesotho and we’re left with about 500 people, he said.

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