Lindela refugees detained 'for their own safety'

Asylum-seekers and refugees moved from the R28 road outside the Lindela detention centre on the West Rand were still being “detained for their own safety” on Tuesday, Gauteng police said.

Superintendent Lungelo Dlamini said: “We are still talking to them.”

The women and children were moved from the side of the national road on Monday, where they had been living since being moved from the Glenanda shelter for xenophobia victims in Johannesburg last Tuesday.

Dlamini said their detention was in terms of the Police Act. “We can detain any person for their own safety,” he said.

The woman and children were detained at the Riet Family Care Centre in Krugersdorp and the men at police stations in the vicinity.

The group had refused to register for a temporary ID card at the Glenanda shelter in southern Johannesburg, fearing that this may cancel the refugee and asylum-seeker documentation they had already secured.

They were then taken to Lindela, where their documentation was verified, and those with the legal right to stay in the country were released.
The Home Affairs Department said at the time that those without documentation would be deported.

The group who had been released refused to go back to their communities, saying they were scared. This was after more than 60 people died when xenophobic violence came to a head in May.

The Department of Home Affairs and the Gauteng provincial government have said the refugees were on their own after leaving Lindela, but the local municipality was concerned about having a group of people living on the side of a national road.

Dlamini would not discuss whether the group would face any charges or be taken to court, but an official at the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court said he had seen some of the detained in the morning in the holding cells.

On Monday the executive manager of the Krugersdorp municipality, Jorrie Jordaan, said the local authority was still studying Section 11 of the Child Care Act.

The refugees had been given until Monday to move from the area.—Sapa

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