By A Correspondent- At least 100 Congolese migrants have escaped from the Tongogara refugee camp in Chipinge.
The refugee among them children have been captured in Bulawayo after they were discovered at a house in one of Bulawayo’s low-density suburbs.
The Congolese were en route to Botswana after allegedly escaping from the country’s Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge.
It is not clear how they managed to travel from Chipinge to Bulawayo, a distance of over 500km, during the COVID-19 lockdown period when intercity travel has been banned.
Sources said the Congolese migrants were discovered at a Bulawayo house on Monday following a tip-off, leading to their detention at Hillside Police Station while alternative accommodation was being sought by the Social Welfare Department.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima confirmed the detention, saying the ministry would launch investigations into how the migrants left Tongogara.
“I don’t have details, but our position as a ministry is that they are supposed to be at Tongogara Refugee Camp. However, for now, they have to be processed by the police and their case will have to be reviewed by immigration authorities to see if there is any law that has been broken,” Mavima told Newsday.
“If any law has been broken, then justice will take its course. From our perspective as a ministry which is responsible for administration and welfare of the migrants, there has to be a review of how they got there (Bulawayo); and address the gaps and lapses.”
National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed that 104 Congolese refugees escaped from Tongogara camp.
“What is clear is that these are refugees from DRC who were coming from Tongogara Refugee Camp. Some of them have got their papers and currently, they are going through COVID-19 processes and also vetting by relevant government departments,” Nyathi said.