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SAHRC investigates the treatment of asylum seekers in Cape Town by the Department of Home Affairs
Wednesday, 26 September 2012

ATTENTION: Editors and Reporters
The South African Human Rights Commission has noted with concern reports of allegations of human rights abuses against the asylum seekers in the Western Cape.

The Commission is currently processing formal complaints received today (26th September 2012) from at least eighty asylum seekers, including two children, against the Department of Home Affairs.

The aforementioned complainants allege the following:
  1. That they are new applicants who have unsuccessfully been attempting to legalise their status with the Department of Home Affairs, Cape Town. 
  2. Applicants have even resorted to sleeping outside the Reception Centre in order to gain entry for purposes of processing.
  3. Applicants have relayed incidents of having been physically thrown out of the Reception Centre by officials and security officers stationed there.
  4. That officials have advised the applicants to travel to the other provinces in order to be processed as said processing would not be facilitated in Cape Town.  The Home Affairs officials argue that capacity is the problem, but based on our discussions with them today, this is not the issue.
  5. The applicants fear arrest for not having the relevant documentation issued by the Department.
The complainants allege that the Department of Home Affairs’ conduct amounts to a violation of their right to just administrative action and their right to freedom and security.

The SAHRC will be investigating these allegations  in the light of the decision of  and the Honourable Judge J Davis on 25 July 2012 in the matter of Scalabrini Centre Cape Town (“Applicant”) v The Minister of Home Affairs & 4 Others, in which the Western Cape High Court ordered the respondents, pending the final determination of the relief sought in Part B of the notice of motion, to ensure that a refugee reception office remains open and fully functional within the Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality, at which applicants for asylum can make applications for asylum and be issued with section 22 permits.

The Chairperson of the SAHRC has approached the Department of Home Affairs to bring this matter to their attention. We will continue to engage with them and other civil society groups to ensure that the rights of the asylum seekers are respected and protected.


Isaac Mangena
South African Human Rights Commission
Head: Communications
2771884 8273

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