Troubles at Lindela not as reported
The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs has satisfied itself that while there are challenges at Lindela Repatriation Centre, the conditions are not as horrible as is suggested by media reports. The Committee concluded its shortened oversight programme with a visit to the centre to assess the state of conditions with which the inmates are held at the centre.
The Committee is satisfied with the level of cleanliness of the centre as well as provision of services and primary healthcare. The Committee has called on the management of the centre to further strengthen working relations with healthcare facilities near the centre to ensure provision of additional healthcare services to the inmates.
However, the Committee is disappointed that the South African Human Rights Commission has not occupied the office space at the centre provided to the Commission by the Department of Home Affairs to enable their day to day monitoring of conditions at the centre. The occupation of this space will ensure a collaborative effort in ensuring that the rights of detainees are protected on a daily basis and not kept in abeyance until a report that takes months to prepare is released. The Committee will engage the Commission to solicit reasons for the non-occupancy.
The Committee has further requested the management of the centre to increase toilet and shower facilities within the centre. The Committee was shocked to learn that a room catering for about 36 detainees had only one toilet and shower. The matter has been highlighted by the Committee as needing urgent attention and an undertaking has been made by the centre management to look into an urgent solution.
Furthermore, the Committee is of the view that the entire Immigration regime needs a review as challenges that the centre faces are as a direct consequence of loopholes within the regime. The Committee is concerned that tactics such as detainees giving the department wrong nationalities to delay the verification process can only be dealt with efficiently through a review of the regime. The review should also look into ways to deter illegal migration into the country.
The Committee is further of the view that the speedy implementation of the Border Management Agency will go a long way in dealing with some of the challenges currently faced by the Department of Home Affairs. While research on the implementation is done, the Committee has urged the department to improve conditions at Refugee Reception Centres such as Marabastad and Tirro Refugee Reception Centres. The Committee found the conditions at these centres not adequate. The situation at Marabastad remains a health hazard and security risk for both the foreign nationals as well as DHA officials working there.
The Committee will monitor implementation of the recommendations it has made to the department during this oversight visit and a comprehensive report will be tabled to the House.
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Malatswa Evans Molepo
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