News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Wednesday June 19th 2019

Asylum-seekers file complaint with SA Human Rights Commission


Fearing mass arrests and deportations, a group of about a hundred desperate undocumented asylum-seekers have turned to the South African Human Rights Commission to seek redress.

New applicant asylum-seekers in the province have been languishing in the cold by the Department of Home Affairs former Refugee Reception Office at the Foreshore after it shut down the Maitland Refugee Reception Office and ordered these asylum-seekers to travel up to Pretoria or Musina for documentation.

The department’s refusal to process new-comers is in defiance of two recent Western Cape High Court orders ordering it to resume documenting new applicants at their refugee offices on the Foreshore.

On wednesday afternoon about a hundred asylum-seekers from across the continent marched in single file to the South African Human Rights Commission to seek help and force the department to comply with the law.

The asylum-seekers had braved the cold weather and slept overnight outside the Foreshore office demanding their right to be documented.

Braam Hanekom, director of vocal refugee rights lobby group People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (Passop), who was with the asylum-seekers, said if the department could not send buses to ferry the asylum-seekers to Pretoria for documentation, then these people should not be arrested or deported.

He complained that the department was breaking the law by failing to comply with two court orders which compelled it to reopen doors to undocumented asylum-seekers in Cape Town.

The department has indicated that it was planning to have all refugee reception offices across the country moved from the metro areas to the borders, a move that pro-refugee lobby groups have vehemently opposed and were prepared to fight against in the courts.

With the ANC national elective conference in Magaung around two months away, some sources have suggested that the department would not act on the court orders until the ruling party made its policy resolutions at that summit.

Without documentation, asylum-seekers, some of whom are fleeing ravaging wars on the continent, cannot find work, open bank accounts or study – Francis Hweshe

Tags: Braam Hanekom, Department of Home Affairs former Refugee Reception Office, Maitland Refugee Reception Office, Oppression and Poverty), passop, People Against Suffering, south african human rights commission

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