…As South Africa reports over 10,000 illegal migrants in 2019***
About 187 Nigerians who were evacuated from South Africa have landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, even as South African Home Affairs indicated Wednesday that more than 10,000 illegal migrants have been deported from South Africa in the first six months of 2019.
The evacuees, who departed from Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, around 4p.m aboard an Air Peace Boeing 777 aircraft, touched down at 9:34pm on Wednesday.e flight, confirmed their arrival.
A foreign affairs ministry official, Mr. Kimiebi Ebenfa, who was on board said, “We just landed safely despite the delays in South Africa.”
The returnees comprising men, women and children were the first batch of the 640 Nigerians who registered for evacuation following the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
About 313 were billed to leave on Wednesday, but most of them could not travel with the first flight due to lack of travel documents.
Providing an update on the evacuation operation earlier while in South Africa, Ebenfa said the passengers checked in for departure at 3:27 pm.
According to him, the flight, which was scheduled for 10a.m. was delayed by the slow check-in process and immigration clearance.
He said, “Flight was delayed due to the slow process of check-in and immigration clearance.
“There were also complaints of system failure.
“Out of the 313 confirmed for the first batch,only 84 were cleared so far,” he said at 9:35a.m. before the flight took off around 4p.m.
The South African High Commission in Abuja could not be reached for comment on reasons for the delay.
Meanwhile, the South Africa Department of Home Affairs on Wednesday said that more than 10,000 illegal migrants have been deported from South Africa in the first six months of 2019.
Home Affairs Minister spokesman Siya Qoza said it was clamping down on illegal migration and that plans were in place to secure the country’s porous borders.
“These deportations happen regularly, following the prescribed legal processes.’’
He said charges had been lodged against companies that employ undocumented foreign nationals.
The department would intensify inspections of companies, who were breaching the law.
“In the same period we have charged 1,048 employers for breaching immigration laws and more than half of these were in Gauteng.
“With regards to hiring of undocumented foreign nationals, we will clamp down on private business owners who do not abide by the Labour and Immigration Laws,” said the spokesman.
Qoza said the department was planning to implement the Border Management Authority in the next financial year to improve the security at the borderline and ports of entry.
“The Border Management Authority will help us because the problem is not the actual port, but the border line.
“This will allow us to have guards along the borderline and also simply process people around the border,” said Qoza.
Some South Africans including Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba have criticised the Department of Home Affairs, claiming it was not doing enough to tackle illegal migration.
Additional reports from Punch