Malawi’s High Commissioner to South Africa has said the high cost associated with repatriating Malawians from Lindela Detention Centre in South Africa has led to Malawians dominating the population of inmates in the Rainbow nation.
The Commissioner, Professor Chrissie Kaponda, said Malawians make up roughly 40 percent of the population of detainees at the holding facility.
As of second week of February this year, the detention centre was holding about 670 Malawians.
She said recent estimations have indicated that the deportation of 100 Malawians costs the South African government R1.2 million.
“Numbers (of Malawian detainees at Lindela) fluctuate between 600 and 1, 200. Malawians [top the list], seconded by Zimbabweans. If we look at the numbers by percentage, [the population of] Malawians will probably be at 44 percent. That is a huge proportion. This is the case because it is very expensive to repatriate Malawians as they have to be flown to their country,” she said.
She said, according to the immigration laws, of South Africa, Malawi is three borders away, meaning that deporting them by bus could pose a security risk.
Detainees at the Holding Centre are kept for a maximum of 120 days.
In instances where the South African Government fails to repatriate foreigners, the detainees are released and given 14 days to look for money and get back to their respective homes.
Kaponda highlighted that it should be noted that the fate of the Malawians detained at Lindela lies in the hands of the government of South Africa, which is the arresting country.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Rejoice Shumba, has indicated that there is no sign that Malawians being held at Lindela detention centre maybe repatriated soon.
She said discussions with the South African government are underway.
Malawians have over the years been travelling to South Africa with or without proper documents in search of greener pastures.
According to recent reports, South Africans are pushing their authorities to work on creating employment opportunities, in the wake of findings that the rate of employment has dropped to 34 percent.
Meanwhile, the High Commissioner has kept mum on whether the development poses a threat to Malawians in South Africa.
“We have heard rumours and communications from the citizens to their authorities demanding employment. Employment rate has gone down to 34 percent in South Africa. The citizens are claiming that most of the employment [opportunities] are taken up by foreigners, especially Zimbabweans. That is an issue that has been lingering for a long time but last week it had been hiked. We have not had response from government yet. We are waiting for the intervention of government on the matter,” she said.
On Monday eNCA website wrote that the African Diaspora Forum called on the South African government to take all necessary steps to prevent attacks on foreign nationals.
Earlier last week, about 10 houses were torched including that of a Malawian national, Elubey Mwaleni, in Rosettenville, a Johannesburg suburb.
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