The home affairs department in South Africa is secretly deporting Malawians and Zimbabweans, according to reports.
Local media have reported that several Malawians have been held and later deported after they went to the home affairs department to get documentation for extending their stay.
A Malawian who has been living in South Africa for more than 10 years said he was held after he went with his brother to the home affairs offices to have their asylum-seeker papers stamped to allow them to live and work in South Africa legally for another three months.
He claimed that he was then sent into a different room than his brother. While in the room, the home affairs officials told them to sign some papers and they signed before they could read what was going on there.
“I walked out of the room and found an official, another woman, sitting somewhere else. I asked her: ‘What is going on? Why are we waiting in that room?’“ She replied: ‘Oh, you are in that room? That means you are going to be arrested and they are going to deport you. If I was you, I would run away.’ “But they still have my papers.’” ‘It’s up to you, but you are better off just going.’”
That’s what he did. He just left quietly and the other guys in that room saw him leaving too and also decided to leave. They knew something was wrong.
However, the South African home affairs department refuted the claims saying there is no such thing and asked for the actual names of the people involved to determine why anyone was “being deported”.
But a nongovernmental organisation called Passop which fight for the rights of the foreigners in South Africa said it is aware of the incidents.
According to its director, Bernard Toyambi, the organisation has heard similar stories before but could not say whether anyone was being “secretly deported”.
“It’s not a secret. That guy probably just received his final rejection letter. After more than 10 years, they just rejected him,” he said referring to the Malawian who faced deportation after living in South Africa for 10 years.
South Africa was hosting more asylum seekers than any other country in the world by the end of 2015, according to a report released by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
“South Africa has, by a large margin, the highest reported number of applications pending at any stage of the asylum procedure,” UNHCR said in the report that was released on World Refugee Day. “The number of asylum seekers at the end of 2014 in South Africa was estimated to be 1 057 600,”