In SA, safeguards in the law fail to be practiced

“It sometimes comes to my mind or I dream about it. Being in jail, being beaten by the police.”

Imagine you are 14 years old and all your immediate family has died. Where do you go? What do you do?

For Dakarai, there seemed to be only one option. Someone had told him there were opportunities in South Africa. He felt he needed to be strong and leave his homeland in Zimbabwe.
Dakarai made it to South Africa and started working on a farm, but ran away when he was exploited. Soldiers soon arrested him because he didn’t have the right papers.
Dakarai’s fate was to be detained with more than 300 adults and children at Soutpansberg Military Grounds, a military base on the Zimbabwe-South Africa border used until recently to detain undocumented migrants. The conditions were crude.
“Sometimes we were sleeping on the floor without blankets,” Dakarai says.
“The building was made from iron sheets”.
Told that there was no transport to Zimbabwe to allow deportation, Dakarai was kept in the camp for two months. A lack of food was made worse by the presence of adult detainees.
“We only received one meal a day, just bread, sometimes with soup,” Dakarai says.
“Since we were mixed with thugs and other adults they would take the soup from us. It was very difficult for the children to find a place to sleep.”
“There was nothing to do in the detention centre: no toys, ball or place to play,” Dakarai says.
In the end it was a severe asthma attack that caused Dakarai to leave detention. After receiving some treatment in a hospital he was released, but had nowhere to go.  Having slept on the floor in detention, he now slept on the streets.
Dakarai spent two years fending for himself before he was again arrested by police. He told them he was 17, but despite his earlier dealings with them they refused to believe him.
Back in prison and without any money to appease the other prisoners, Dakarai was assaulted, his head forced into a toilet. No-one listened when he asked for asthma medication.
His time in detention and prison, and its effect on his health, continues to worry Dakarai.
“It pains when I think about my health condition, especially the fact that I must now take medication,” he says.
“Sometimes I feel very angry or cry when I think about the past experiences.”
“There are times when I dream about being in jail, being beaten by the police.”
Dakarai’s experience shows the problems that can arise when authorities don’t consider and fulfill the needs and rights of children.

Children in detention – South African snapshot

Under the Refugees Act of South Africa, there is no provision for mandatory detention of asylum seekers and refugees. The Immigration Act however does provide for the detention and deportation of ‘illegal foreigners’.   In practice, detention is often carried out in an unlawful manner for refugees, asylum seekers and irregular migrants, including children.
South African law prohibits the detention of children for immigration reasons. The Children’s Act also prevents children being removed without a court order. Detention can occur, however, in a place of safety pending repatriation through lawful processes.
In practice, large and increasing numbers of children and minors are being detained in police stations and deported, without legal safeguards or overview of their best interests. Most are sent to Zimbabwe – it has been reported that between October and December 2011, 86 children between the ages of 2-17 years were deported there. Children should also not be detained in the same facilities as adults, yet this is a commonplace scenario.
Human rights groups raise major concerns about the conditions of the main detention centre, the Lindela Repatriation Centre.  In 2005, the courts ruled that children may only be detained as a matter of last resort and that Lindela was not fit for the detention of children. Since then, women with children have mostly been detained in separate shelters, although there are still sporadic cases of children being detained at Lindela. Human rights groups are also concerned about the emergence of unregistered children’s shelters as well as reports of physical abuse, neglect and long-term detention in children’s shelters.

What are we asking for?

The campaign calls on the Government of South Africa to stop detaining children – not only in law but also in practice.  The campaign calls upon the South African Government also to stop deporting children.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Minori Stranieri Non Accompagnati © 2015 - Designed by, Plugins By