Pretoria — The Department of Home Affairs says Minister Naledi Pandor has set up a mechanism to ensure that the number of days each illegal immigrant spends at the transit centre, Lindela, does not exceed 120 days, as stipulated by law.
Addressing the media in Pretoria on Thursday, Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni said the department would continue to enforce the observance of the immigration laws of the country within the framework of the Constitution.
The department said the court case brought against it by the Human Rights Commission and People against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty (Passop) was withdrawn in court on Tuesday, 13 November. The case sought to ensure that inmates at Lindela were not detained for more than 120 days.
"The withdrawal arose from the fact that by the time the case was brought against the department, the 39 inmates on whose behalf the case was brought had already been released or deported," said Apleni.
"The challenges that had previously led to inmates overstaying the stipulated 120 days arises from, among others, a deliberate attempt to subvert the law by refusing to supply officers at the transit centre with details of their origin and/or nationality," he added.
Lindela is a place where illegal immigrants are detained and thereafter deported to their countries of origin. Pandor is expected to visit the centre to interact with inmates and staff members.
Apleni said extended stays at the centre were also due to some embassies and high commissions not being forthcoming to assist the department in identifying their nationals, thus delaying the process of deportation.
"These issues are a matter of concern and continue to receive the attention of the minister with a view to finding an amicable resolution to these challenges."