Continuing a trend throughout the African continent, hundreds of Malawian nationals were deported from South Africa recently after being caught by officials without the legal status required to remain in the country. Around 849 Malawians were detained by South African authorities for contravening immigration laws, and it appears that at least 300 of these individuals were then duly repatriated.
According to reports, Malawi’s deputy national spokesperson for the immigration department, Wellington Chiponde, said that Malawians were flocking to other countries without proper documents at an alarming rate. “As [the] Department of Immigration, we are urging Malawians to observe immigration regulations in all countries. Holding a valid passport is not enough. Citizens should familiarise themselves with immigration requirements in all countries they are travelling to,” He stated.
In 2013, over 1000 Malawians residing illegally in Tanzania were deported by local authorities who were focusing on repatriating undocumented immigrants from neighbouring countries, including Rwanda and Burundi. In February 2016 the Malawian High Commission claimed that Malawians made up 45% of individuals held at South Africa’s Lindela Repatriation Centre, awaiting transport back to their home state; in 2014 the South African Human Rights Commission placed the number of Malawian detainees at 44%.
Malawi has been rated as one of the poorest countries in the world and declared a state of disaster in 2016, seeking relief from the World Bank and humanitarian relief entities following severe draughts linked to climate change. For these and other reasons Malawians regularly flee their country seeking greater opportunities in neighbouring African states.