First time asylum seekers shun at Cape Town Refugee Centre

First time asylum seekers outside Cape Town Refugee Office. Photo by Bernard Chiguvare

Despite the Supreme Court ruling the Cape Town Refugee Office is still not open for first time asylum seekers.

Foreshore, Cape Town, South Africa

Several first time asylum seekers thronged the Cape Town Refugee Office Foreshore anticipating to get asylum permits but the office was not reopened on Tuesday.

This is despite  the  ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal last September that Home Affairs must “reopen and maintain a fully functional refugee reception office in or around the Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality, by Friday 31 March 2018,” according to a report by GroundUp.

The Refugee Reception Office was closed in 2012 leaving many first timers stranded.  On Tuesday some came as far as Atlantis but were not addressed by any Home Affairs official.

A female security guard at the gate told Elitsha that there was currently no such service.

“It is really difficult for me. I have been in South Africa since 2013. I cannot get service from the hospital or get employed anywhere. Today I thought I was going to be served but a security at the fence told us they are not serving those applying for the first time,” said Abdul Zake from Somalia.

Zake came all the way from Atlantis in company of a group of women.

“I have to spend R75 towards transport but i did not get service. I cannot force them to open but am still looking forward to their service,” said Zake.

Another Somali who has been in the country for 7 years said he has been trying to get his family to join him for some time now but given the fact that the office was not open it further put strain on his family. “I have several times come here trying to apply for my family to join me but have failed to get any service. They always tell us to come back the following week. Today I  thought it would be best to let my wife apply her on asylum as first timer.”

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His wife arrived in South Africa in October last year, leaving their three children in Somalia under the care of his mother.

Home Affairs department did not respond to the queries sent by Elitsha.


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About Bernard Chiguvare 56 Articles
Originally from Zimbabwe and since 2014 I been contributing to different publications in South Africa. My area of focus as a reporter is on the rights of vulnerable communities and foreign nationals in any country.