THE plight of refugees seeking to legitimise their stay in South Africa by applying for the necessary documentation at the Durban Refugee Reception Office was highlighted this week when a delegation from the Democratic Alliance (DA) conducted an oversight inspection at the Durban Refugee Reception Office (RRO), on Monday.
According to the party, the office is one of worst affected by the illegal closure of the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth Reception Offices. Explaining the reasons behind the visit, the party said it had received reports that the Durban RRO was currently fully booked and therefore unable to schedule appointments for new applications until August.
DA Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, Haniff Hoosen, who was amongst the party of delegates who visited the Durban office this week, said any new asylum seekers needing and wanting to declare their presence and regularise their stay in South Africa, by reporting to this office would remain undocumented if they could not afford to travel to Musina or Pretoria.
“Their undocumented presence in the country is often a direct result of the incapacity of the Department of Home Affairs, which has been made worse by the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth closures. The Department’s ineffectiveness at processing asylum applications could contribute to an increase in illegal immigration.The DA also received concerning reports of bribes being openly and routinely demanded from applicants to be issued their documentation,” said Hoosen.
Hoosen said that the DA had written to Minister Malusi Gigaba to ask him about the steps his department was taking to re-open both offices. “In September 2017, the Supreme Court of Appeal found that the decision to close the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office was irrational and therefore ought to be reviewed and set aside. The Department’s appeal to the Constitutional Court was dismissed in December 2017 and was ordered to re-open the Cape Town office by 31 March 2018. Not only has the Department failed to comply with this order, but it has also failed to comply with another 2015 order to re-open the Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Office,” he said.
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Speaking to the Berea Mail, a refugee seeker at the reception office said he has spent more than a year visiting the centre trying to get documented without any success.
“When I came here last year I was told that the centre was fully booked and we had to return this year. I am now back but the situation is still the same, those who can afford to pay their way, get the first preference,” he said.
Hoosen said: “We are calling for the complete overhaul of the system because it has proven inefficient. We are determined to ensure that the many and varied issues currently plaguing the system are resolved so that the department can become fully functional, well-resourced and able to process all applications efficiently.We will pursue this issue tirelessly for the sake of all the people within in our borders, citizens as well as foreign nationals.”
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