Posted Tuesday, February 2 2010 at 00:00
Twenty-two Ugandans who were arrested in South Africa over charges of contravening immigration laws are to be deported starting this week. The detainees aged between 23-50, who were arrested during Christmas season, are said to have illegally entered South Africa while others had expired visas.
The 22 detainees, who are being held at South African repatriation centre in Krugersdorp awaiting deportation, came to the limelight last week during an official visit of a Ugandan delegation to South Africa.
Members of Parliament Emmanuel Lumala Dombo, Nathan Byanyima, Rose Namayanja and Lt. Saleh Kamba accompanied the delegation.The delegation was led by Internal Affairs State Minister Matia Kasaija and included the Inspector General of Police Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura, the Commissioner General of Prisons, Dr Johnson Byabashaija, and ministers Rukia Chekamondo (Privatisation), Charles Bakkabulindi (Sports).
The Ugandan detainees, some of whom have been incarcerated for over a month, confessed to have gone to South Africa without relevant visas to â€˜seek greener pasturesâ€™.
â€œWe are not criminals, we only came to seek greener pastures, earn an extra coin and invest home,â€ a member of the delegation quoted some of the captives as telling the Ugandan officials.
Mr Kasaija confirmed that screening the detainees was on-going and that they will be flown back to Uganda any time. He cautioned Ugandans against using illegal entry means, saying they should always use proper channels for visiting and working in a foreign country.
â€œHaving a passport is a right. No one should risk life again in such a way,â€ he said, adding that finding the detainees was a coincidence since they had gone for a public-private partnership mission.
Consul Wilson Twinomugisha, the second secretary at the Uganda High Commission in South Africa told Daily Monitor on telephone that as the World Cup, which will be held in South Africa in June, draws closer, more people with illegal documents will be deported for security reasons.
He said Ugandans will be deported in two batches with the first one expected this week.
Some of the detainees are said to have been selling traditional medicine, which they said is a lucrative venture in South Africa.
Others seized include Mozambicans and Zimbabweans.