News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Sunday September 15th 2019

Home Affairs runs out of paper for asylum seeker permits


Asylum Seekers seeking to obtain a section 22 permit and some seeking to renew their existing permit have not been able to do so for the past two weeks because the department of Home Affairs did not have the particular paper the permits are printed on.

Not only have they run out of paper at the Cape Town and Pretoria refugee reception offices where hundreds of asylum seekers line up every day, it has also put legitimate asylum seekers in danger of arrest, detention and deportations, says the University of Cape Town (UCT) Law clinic and Lawyers for Human Rights who maintain the department has had no paper stock for the past two weeks.

Although Home Affairs head of communication Ronnie Mamoepa on Thursday admitted that the department had run out of the necessary paper “a few days ago”, he said the matter had been sorted out by Wednesday last week.

However, James Chapman, an attorney at the UCT law clinic, said asylum seekers had been flooding their offices seeking help and had informed them that they had been at the Cape Town Home Affairs Refugee Reception offices last week and the situation had not normalised.

And in Pretoria, although the paper was available there, asylum seekers were being prevented by security guards from accessing the Home Affairs offices, said David Cote a coordinator of strategic litigation at Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) in Pretoria.

“It’s frustrating because at the same time they are arresting people for the purpose of deportation. The target is new arrivals . Those people may have genuine refugee claims (but) they may get arrested and sent to Lindela because they can’t get papers (permits) because home affairs ran out of paper,” said Chapman.

Chapman said one of his clients, a husband and father of five children, had informed him that on Wednesday he had gone to the Cape Town Refugee Reception offices in Maitland but was informed that there was no paper to print his permit.

He said “lots” of “our clients” were told to return to the Refugee Reception Offices next week on April 16-17.

The asylum seekers were vulnerable to arrests and to a fine of R2500 for late renewals of their existing Section 22 permits and possibly were vulnerable to deportation “if they are new comers,” he said.

Speaking from the UCT law clinic offices, one Bangladeshi national who spoke on condition his name be withheld for fear of reprisals from Home Affairs, said he was at the UCT law clinic with three other Bangladeshi nationals who had gone through a “bad experience” while attempting to obtain their Section 22 asylum seekers permit, and was seeking help at the UCT law clinic.

The Bangladeshi national said they had slept at the Cape Town Home Affairs Refugee Reception offices for six days in an effort to get their permit, and were often assaulted by security guards.

“No body give the paper (sic). There is no humanity (at the Cape Town Home Affairs Refugee Centre). Securities (sic) come with big sticks pushing us on the queue and beating us. If you can see (the situation) with your own eyes you can cry,” he said, adding that they fled their own country because of political infighting and rampant poverty.

Chapman said for the past week about 40 Asylum Seekers had flooded their offices seeking help, and some of them had lost their jobs because they were not able to renew their permits, he said.

Cote said asylum seekers who had attempted to renew their permits and or obtain a permit for the first time were not given evidence or any proof by Home Affairs officials to indicate when approached by police that they had attempted to get their official permits.

“People (Asylum Seekers) are coming here on regular basis to inform us about the situation,” he said, “it is not their fault that the permits expire.”

Mamoepa said “the paper issue has been sorted. It’s been there for a few days.”

He said the problem arose because of bad planning and that his department will ensure that there was no “recurrence of the problem”. — Peter Luhanga

Tags: 22 permit, asylum seekers, David Cote, Home Affairs, James Chapman, lawyers for human rights, Refugee Reception Offices, Ronnie Mamoepa, University of Cape Town (UCT) Law clinic

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2 Responses to “Home Affairs runs out of paper for asylum seeker permits”

  1. jess kibassa says:

    Before they gave us 6 months but now it is just 2, 3, 4 months to the maxi, one of our brother came from home affairs and said that “it is wrote at home affairs that in November they will no longer give papers to asylum seekers”. So what we gonna do? live without papers or they will let us go home? By returning us home, means our people or Government will do us tortured,killed ,abused … Because each came to asylum with his(her)reasons and reasons, as long as our reasons and grounds will not be resolved home, it will be the loss of human lives that they will cause!

  2. Tk says:

    Wat comes around goes around

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