Debates in Ireland over Australian policies on detention

Russell Grinker grinker at
Wed Mar 22 23:49:32 PST 2000

Something on detention camps in democratic Suth Africa (this one's owned by various high-ranking ANC women).

Aliens languish in dire state in Lindela camp

JOHANNESBURG -- Hungry babies, frustrated visitors, harassed officials, angry foreigners and a strong police presence are what characterise the Lindela Repatriation Camp -- the only holding facility for suspected illegal aliens -- following last week's crime crackdown in Hillbrow.

Well over 7000 people were arrested and taken to the camp since last Monday. And while arrangements for deportation have been made, the camp remains crowded and officials are preparing for a renewed flood of inmates after having been warned new raids are scheduled to start in Pretoria.

Lorraine Makola, acting director for the Department of Home Affairs' Gauteng West region, said conditions at Lindela were not up to usual standards owing to the sudden increase in inmates.

The facility, which is designed to house 4500 people but generally holds between 2000 and 2500, is now housing almost 4000 sus- pected illegal immigrants.

"We were bombarded. These people are supposed to be taken to the police station to have their documents checked, and then brought here for repatriation. But instead many were just brought here and we have waited until today for some of the outstanding documents to be brought to us," Makola said yesterday, explaining why many inmates had been held at the camp for several days for their confiscated passports to be delivered to the camp.

Makola said 7068 people had been taken directly to Lindela. Over 400 had been released after their documents were found to be in order, and more releases were expected as officials continued to find many people's documents to be in order.

Illegal immigrants at the camp are mostly from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia and Nigeria. Others are nationals of China, Thailand, Egypt, Bulgaria, Russia, Switzerland, Yugoslavia, Pakistan and France. Makola said an American man had also been held, but was taken to a nearby police station after "causing havoc" at the camp.

"We have some people from Ethiopia, Somalia and Burundi but we have to check their status as asylum-seekers, as we won't just send them back.

"Some of the Thai women are also to be criminally charged as they were working as prostitutes and this is not their first time here," Makola said.

Gates at the Lindela entrance were closed yesterday as visitors bringing clothes and food to people inside were stopped by a police contingent guarding the camp. "We have had to stop the visits as we have too many people here," Makola said.

She said 900 Mozambicans had been deported last Wednesday, 1600 Zimbabweans on Sunday and over 500 more Mozambicans yesterday. Arrangements have also been made to have 130 Nigerian nationals flown home as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, inmates waited at the Home Affairs offices for their documents to be checked. Some queued outside the doctor's rooms and others milled around their sections.

Naomi Banda, 24, of Zambia, doubled in pain from a stomach complaint, and was admitted to the sick bay.

Nigerian croupier Margaret Stilo-Iwebo explained how her hand had been injured during her arrest, and she was afraid she would be unable to do her job. "I want to go back to work. I can't just be sent back to Nigeria," she said.

Boly Lucie, a businesswoman from Abidjan on the Ivory Coast, claimed to have been held at Lindela for two weeks despite having valid documents.

"I was arrested by the police in my hotel room at four one morning. I was brought here and am still waiting.

"I bought two tons of sewing machine equipment worth R100000 which is being stored in the Ivory Coast. The police took about R15000 which I had with me, every day I am being charged storage fees, and I don't know how I am going to get my VAT refund," she said, dismally spreading her receipts out on a bed.

Dr Mohammed Khota, the medical practitioner on the premises, said an outbreak of flu, pregnant women, asthma sufferers, a man with diabetes and some sick babies were his major concerns. -- DDC

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list