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1,236 Malawians still detained in South Africa

national1At least1,235 Malawians have been detained at Lindela Detention Camp at Krugersdorp in west Johannesburg, South Africa after they were arrested for illegally living in the country.

This is part of the 2,000 Malawians that were arrested late last year and ware set for deportation to Malawi.

Malawi News has learnt that the detainees were given a choice by the South African government, either to go for voluntary repatriation or wait for official repatriation by the South African government which normally happens after 120 days from the time of detention.

Communications officer in the office of the Vice President, Disaster Management Affairs, Jeremiah Mphande, said the South African government, however, halted the repatriation exercise of these Malawians until further notice. He said no reasons were given for this decision.

Mphande said during the first voluntary repatriation, the Malawi Consulate in Johannesburg spent K477, 737.

“245 were deported by South African government in end October and arrived in Malawi on November 1, 2015. An additional 495 have so far been repatriated in three trips November 23, 16 and December 27, 2015,” he said, adding that 740 Malawians have so far been voluntarily repatriated as of Thursday.

Malawi government here spent about MK400, 000 through the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA).

The department had set aside MK52.6 million for verification exercise, and to assist about 2000 deportees with accommodation and transport to their districts should they be stranded once they arrive home.

The money also catered for fuel for responsible officers coordinating the emergency response and the Task Force which had to travel to Mwanza border to coordinate the arrival of the returnees.

Mphande, however, said this budget was not intended for the actual deportation from South Africa as the South African government had indicated that the repatriation was its responsibility.

“Much of the funds have not yet been exhausted because some detained Malawians were repatriated voluntarily. This means that the deportees had to cater for their transport cost from South Africa to their respective homes,” he said.

Mphande, while emphasizing that Malawi government does not condone Malawians to be living in other countries illegally, said the Mission staff from South Africa and Zimbabwe accompanied the buses that transported Malawians as they passed through their respective countries, despite an earlier agreement that the South African Government would be responsible for all escort expenses from South Africa to the point of entry in Malawi.

According to Dodma, in situations like these, the department makes a special funding request to Treasury based on the nature of the emergency.

Malawians have been migrating abroad for greener pastures but South Africa seems to be the best hope for many.

Malawi government also spent over K340 million to repatriate Malawians who were fleeing xenophobic attacks early last year.

Lindela Deportation Camp houses illegal immigrants arrested in regular sweeps by the South African Police Services (Saps).

Online media reports indicate that the deportation centre is a living hell and has been attracting human rights protests.

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