The Department of Home Affairs has started the process of deporting 20 foreign nationals who were part of the asylum seekers and refugees that were protesting in Cape Town.
"The deportation of these foreign nationals follows a successful law enforcement operation which was undertaken by the Department Inspectorate officials, supported by South African Police Service (SAPS), the City of Cape Town and the departments of Social Development and Health, at the temporary facility at Paint City in Bellville, Cape Town," the department said on Friday.
The deportation of the 20 foreign nationals followed due process and was confirmed by the court on Monday and Tuesday in terms of the immigration laws of the country.
The affected foreign nationals have already been transferred to Lindela Repatriation Centre for deportation purposes.
Aline Bukuru, a director of non-governmental organization (NGO) Woman and Children at Concern, and 11 other foreign nationals are scheduled to reappear in court on Friday.
Bukuru is a leader of one of the groups, together with her husband, JP Balous who has been remanded in custody facing several criminal charges.
"The couple have flatly rejected integration option into local communities demanding instead, relocation to a third country, preferably to Canada, by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This is despite the UNHCR repeatedly informing them that relocation to a third country was out of the question," the department said.
Both Bukuru and Balous have exhausted their internal remedies and their applications for asylum have been rejected.
The department and its asylum structures have embarked on a project to deal with all the backlogs in asylum processes, including appeals.
"The project is partly funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as part of their commitment to assisting South Africa in clearing the backlogs in the asylum processes.
"The Minister of Home Affairs would like to extend his sincere gratitude to the UNHCR for its intervention. The funds will be used to employ additional lawyers on a temporary basis to assist in the asylum processes," the department said.
As part of the project, the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs (SCRA) and the Refugee Appeals Authority (RAA) will continue to finalise all pending appeals.
SA urged to report illegal persons to authorities
The department has expressed concern at the events that took place in eThekwini earlier this week, where businesses belonging to foreign nationals were closed down.
"We wish to remind citizens that there are foreign nationals who are in the country legally and are allowed to conduct business in terms of the applicable laws of the country. As such, they should not be unfairly targeted simply on the basis of their nationality. South Africa has immigration laws to deal with illegal foreigners," the department said.
The department has urged all South Africans to not take the law into their own hands but to report any illegal person they encounter to law enforcement and Home Affairs immigration officials.
All Home Affairs offices have immigration officers.