11 June 2018

South Africa: Graft, Inept Refugee System Fuel SA Illegal Immigration

Durban — THE South African official opposition has blamed illegal immigration on corruption and the country's dysfunctional refugee reception centres.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said it had also received concerning reports of bribes being openly and routinely demanded from applicants to be issued their documentation.

DA's statement came at the conclusion of an oversight inspection at the Durban's Home Affairs of the Refugee Reception Office (RRO), which is said to be one of the offices worst affected by the illegal closure of the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth RROs.

Haniff Hoosen, DA Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, said the tour came after the party received reports that the Durban RRO was currently fully booked and therefore unable to schedule appointments for new applications until August.

Thus, any new asylum seekers needing and wanting to declare their presence and regularise their stay in South Africa, by reporting to the Durban office will remain undocumented if they cannot afford to travel to Musina or Pretoria.

Hoosen said their undocumented presence in the country was often a direct result of the incapacity of the Department of Home Affairs, which had been worsened by the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth closures.

"The Department's ineffectiveness at processing asylum applications could contribute to an increase in illegal immigration," warned the legislator.

Hoosen said the party had written to Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, asking about the steps his department is taking to re-open refugee offices.

Last September, the Supreme Court of Appeal found that the decision to close the Cape Town RRO was "irrational" and therefore ought to be reviewed and set aside.

The department's appeal to the Constitutional Court was dismissed in December and was ordered to re-open the Cape Town Office by March 31.

Hoosen lamented not only had 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 RRO.

DA has submitted parliamentary questions and brought the matter to the attention of the Portfolio Committee.

Hoosen warned if Gigaba failed to respond to comply with the court orders, President Cyril Ramaphosa must ensure the minister is held to account for being in contempt of court.

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