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Zimbabwean refugees demonstrate in Jo'burg
September 07, 2005

JOHANNESBURG More than 100 Zimbabwean, Nigerian and Rwandese refugees demonstrated in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning against alleged ill-treatment by South African authorities of foreigners seeking asylum in the country.

Brandishing placards denouncing xenophobia by government officials and calling for South Africa to shut down its notorious Lindela holding camp for illegal immigrants, the demonstrators marched from Berea Park in the city to the Department of Home Affairs offices, also in the city.

The Zimbabwe Action Support Group (ZASG) that helped organise the march said it was meant to draw attention to the inhuman treatment of asylum seekers by South African government officials as well as to urge the authorities to act to improve conditions at Lindela.

Describing conditions at Lindela ZASGB chairman Remember Moyo, said: "The place is always seriously over-crowded, pregnant women and small children are at the mercy of brutal and corrupt officials and guards, living conditions are unhygienic with high rates of illness amongst the detainees, food is regularly rotten and there are no decent medical facilities."

The protestors also wanted Home Affairs authorities to act to end rampant corruption by immigration officials who they said routinely demand cash bribes or sexual favours from foreign immigrants wishing to avoid arrest.

South African immigration officials have been accused of committing human rights violations against foreign immigrants, particularly those who enter the country illegally, while some human rights groups have condemned living conditions at Lindela where several Zimbabweans immigrants have died while detained there.

The government says it does not condone ill-treatment of refugees by its officers and says conditions at Lindela are in keeping with world standards for such facilities. - ZimOnline

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