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Refugees face corruption tax at SA reception centre

A new study shows how refugees are forced to pay bribes at refugee reception centres.

A man waiting to apply for refugee status stands outside the entrance to the Maitland Refugee Reception Centre in Cape Town. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Corruption Watch says it's shocked by the findings of its latest investigations, which have revealed the extent of malpractice at refugee reception offices across the country.

On average, asylum seekers have reported being forced to pay at least four bribes to have their legal documents finalised.

Investigations have found that bribes are paid for a number of reasons, including directing applicants to the correct queue.

Corruption Watch's Kabelo Sedupane says dishonest officials are continuously finding ways to make money from desperate asylum seekers.

The organisation says while it receives multiple complaints of corruption at reception offices- many victims are too afraid to testify against officials.

As a result, the home affairs department has been unable to take the necessary stringent action against accused employees.

The African Centre for Migration says the high rates of corruption at the offices are having a costly impact on South Africa's immigration system.

The Centre says the deteriorating conduct of some officials is now seeing the system helping those who can afford to pay for protection, rather than those who need it the most.