Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says there will be consequences for security company Enviromongz after 37 undocumented migrants escaped from the Lindela Repatriation Centre outside Krugersdorp in Gauteng.
Motsoaledi says the escape, which happened on Sunday, was an inside job allegedly by security personnel.
He says those who escaped were waiting to be repatriated to their home countries.
Motsoaledi has blamed the private security company and alleges that the escape took place after security guards abandoned their posts, vowing to ensure that Enviromongz will be held accountable for the escape.
Since the escape, over 10 security personnel have been suspended.
In the video below, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi addresses the issue of the escapees
“I saw through the CCTV camera they just climbed the walls and escaped, the guards that were there – they were just being overpowered because they knew that there were not enough guards left,” says Motsoaledi.
He says, “So it is an inside job, nobody could have escaped without being aided by people inside here so they aided them. The company suspended those guards. We as the Department of Home Affairs will deal with the company, it is an inside job.”
But a suspended security guard has denied the allegations levelled by the minister.
Patrick Ntise says, “I’m suspended because I knocked off early. I knocked off early because we were verbally told that we need to work 12 hours. Then they will pay us the overtime, but because they didn’t pay us the overtime, we… on the agreement, on the paper, black and white, it’s 8 hours…”
“We engaged with the management, we told them that because we’re not being paid overtime, let’s stick to our 8 hours, then we knocked off. And that rumour about us telling the inmates to run away… It would be stupid for us to do that because there are some of our members who are still working there, we are putting them in danger. That rumour is false,” added Ntise.
This is not the only incident to thrust the centre in the spotlight. Over the weekend, a video showing foreign nationals inside an allegedly overcrowded facility went viral.
I Promised to Expose Overcrowding in Lindela Repatriation Center today over 30 Inmates Escaped from Lindela Lindela has been outsourced again when was the tender advertised @HomeAffairsSA @MorningLiveSABC @SABCNews @eNCA @PresidencyZA @GCISMedia pic.twitter.com/T8mYa6uBdU
— BLACK POWER CIVIL MOVEMENT (@Black_P_Civil) May 5, 2020
In the video, the migrants do not observe any of the COVID-19 safety regulations. The video was posted by an organisation calling itself the Black Power Civil Rights Movement (BPCRM).
It’s president General Thekisho says the situation at the centre will lead to more cases of COVID-19.
Thekisho says, “Since last year people are detained from Joburg or during the programme that was led by the premier. Most of them are still being kept in Lindela and were not even taken back to their countries and that worries us because the place is over crowded. The issue of social distancing is a problem. Screening only took place, but new people that are coming in Lindela are not properly screened.”
Motsoaledi dismissed the footage as fake news and says lockdown regulations have been adhered to at the centre and has warned people not to confuse the public.
The Minister says an investigation is underway after claims that the department fell victim to a dispute between workers and the security company.
Below is a graph with Level-4 lockdown regulations: