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 O. R. Tambo International Airport and Lanseria International 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 September 2014 following two complaints by the Medecins Sans Frontieres or Doctors without Borders, Section 27, and People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty; the South African Human Rights Commission released a report identifying certain healthcare and legal issues at Lindela.[10] The South African Parliament then formed a Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs to look into the allegations and was given 3 months to report back to parliament. In October 2014, detainees stopped a hunger strike after they claimed guards attacked them using rubber bullets and batons.[11] On the 20 October 2014, the South African Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba, did an inspection along with the media of the Lindela Repatriation Centre after human rights abuse allegations surfaced in the media.[12] The minister also invited the South African Human Rights Commission to establish an office at the centre so that Human Rights can be monitored on a daily basis.[13] To date the SAHRC have not taken up the offer.[14]

The ANC Women's League has shares in the centre.[15]

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. ^ Briefing Paper to Parliament
  11. ^ Hunger strikers: 'They shot us in the head at Lindela', RAPULA MOATSHE, Mail & Guardian, 10 October 2014
  12. ^ Lindela Repatriation Centre Gets Thumbs Up from Minister Gigaba
  13. ^ SAHRC invited to set up shop in Lindela
  14. ^ Parliament on media reports regarding Lindela Repatriation Centre
  15. ^ From 'Foreign Natives' to 'Native Foreigners': Explaining Xenophobia in Post-Apartheid South Africa, Michael Neocosmos, CODESRIA, Dakar, 2010