37 undocumented migrants escape from Lindela after protest by guards

Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said some of the guards employed by a private security company had left their stations and the centre unattended on Sunday.

FILE: The Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp, West of Johannesburg.  Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that 37 illegal immigrants who were awaiting deportation escaped from the Lindela repatriation centre.

He said that some of the guards, who were employed by a private security company, left their stations and the centre unattended on Sunday.

Motsoaledi said that CCTV camera footage showed that the detainees climbed over walls and the remaining guards were overwhelmed.

The minister said that protesting guards were to blame for the Lindela prison break.

"The guards left illegally at 2pm. You were hired by the company and when you fought with the company, you did what you did and that’s why people escaped. We will deal with the company."

He denies that the poor living conditions and lack of COVID-19 protection in the facility were to blame.

"This facility has 4,000 beds and if anybody wants to sleep on the floor, we can’t force them [to use the beds]. When it comes to COVID-19, the Department of Health in Gauteng screened all 1,500 inmates."

Motsoaledi said that officials had told him that Lesotho nationals who wanted to be repatriated earlier than the stipulated time started the commotion.