Lindela Repatriation Centre

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The Lindela Repatriation Centre is a detention centre for undocumented migrants in South Africa.[1] The Lindela Repatriation Centre (Lindela) is one of South Africa’s largest facilities for the holding of undocumented migrants. These people are all awaiting determination of their legal status in South Africa (or deportation). Due to an ever increasing burden on SAPS holding cells and the lack of detention capacity in the country’s prisons, the need for a repatriation centre in Gauteng was identified by the Department of Home Affairs. In 1996, Lindela was opened to meet this requirement. It claims to be compliant with all good governance and lawful criteria.

The Department of Home Affairs is legally and administratively responsible for all matters pertaining to the apprehension, holding, processing, repatriation and release of illegal aliens at the Lindela repatriation centre.

Detainees are repatriated and transported by Home Affairs, almost on a daily basis, to border posts or OR Tambo International Airport and Lanseria Airport.


The centre has been strongly criticized for corruption, overcrowding and abuse of detainees [2] and serious concerns have been expressed about human rights violations.[3][4] Popular movements like Abahlali baseMjondolo in Durban[5] and the Anti-Privatisation Forum in Johannesburg[6] have called for Lindela to be shut down.

In March[7] and June[8] 2012 there were riots at the centre. Various reports critical of abuses of human rights at the centre have been ignored.[9]

In October 2014, detainees stopped a hunger strike after they claimed guards attacked them using rubber bullets and batons.[10]

The ANC Women's League has shares in the centre.[11]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ LINDELA AT THE CROSSROADS FOR DETENTION AND REPATRIATION, South African Human Rights Commission, 2002
  2. ^ The spatial politics of xenophobia: everyday practices of Congolese migrants in Johannesburg, by Jennifer Greenburg, Transformation, 2010
  3. ^ LINDELA AT THE CROSSROADS FOR DETENTION AND REPATRIATION, South African Human Rights Commission, 2002
  4. ^ Monitoring Immigration Detention in South Africa, Lawyers for Human Rights, 2008
  5. ^ Abahlali baseMjondolo Statement on the Xenophobic Attacks in Johannesburg, Abahlali baseMjondolo, 2008
  6. ^ Shut down Lindela! South Africa’s symbol of shame! Anti-Privatisation Forum, 2008,
  7. ^ State silent as riot, illegal detention claims rock Lindela, NICKOLAUS BAUER, Mail & Guardian, 28 March 2012
  8. ^ Riot puts spotlight on 'violation' of refugees, MCKEED KOTLOLO, GRAEME HOSKEN and PHILANI NOMBEMBE, The Times, 5 June 2012
  9. ^ Lindela 'hell' ignored, CHANDRÉ PRINCE, The Times, 8 June 2012
  10. ^ Hunger strikers: 'They shot us in the head at Lindela', RAPULA MOATSHE, Mail & Guardian, 10 October 2014
  11. ^ From 'Foreign Natives' to 'Native Foreigners': Explaining Xenophobia in Post-Apartheid South Africa, Michael Neocosmos, CODESRIA, Dakar, 2010