Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has confirmed that 37 illegal foreigners escaped from the Lindela Repatriation Centre on Sunday, after allegedly being aided by security guards contracted by a private company.
Motsoaledi was briefing the media outside the centre in Krugersdorp on Wednesday morning, where he blamed a "war" between security guards and their employer for the escape.
"This escape is an inside job. I can assure you it’s an inside job," Motsoaledi said.
According to the minister, security guards at the repatriation centre have had issues with their employer, a private company that has been contracted to run Lindela.
The squabble between the employees and employer led to security guards knocking off from work at 14:00 instead of 17:00.
"They (the escapees) were tipped off by guards that they would be leaving early and that they could do what they want."
'We are collateral damage'
The escapees then allegedly climbed through the ceilings, before scaling the walls. Motsoaledi said the security guards present were overpowered because other guards had left early.
"So, it’s an inside job. No one could have escaped without being aided by the people inside here. They aided them by telling them they are knocking off earlier."
Motsoaledi said the guards who left early had since been suspended by the company and that the Department of Home Affairs would deal with the contracted company.
The minister further distanced the department from being held responsible for the escape, pinning it on the private company.
"There is a war between them (security guards) and their employer, we are collateral damage," Motsoaledi said.
Speaking on issues of Covid-19, the minister said all the people currently detained at the centre had been screened and that two people with high temperatures had been tested. The results had come back negative for the virus.