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Relief for those seeking asylum in SA following new court order

The Western Cape High ruling handed down last week would allow family members of asylum seekers to document themselves as dependents in a process called 'family joining'.

Asylum seekers mark World Refugee Day by marching to Parliament on 20 June 2012. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN – Refugee activists said a new court order would radically improve the lives of families seeking asylum across the country.

The Western Cape High ruling handed down last week would allow family members of asylum seekers to document themselves as dependents in a process called 'family joining'.

The Scalabrini Centre and the Refugee Rights Unit at the University of Cape Town took the matter to court in 2016.

The UCT Refugee Right's Unit's Popo Mfubu said the ultimate success of this case was that asylum-seeking and refugee families could now fulfil their right to access documentation in South Africa.

He said these families no longer needed to fear arrest and detention, could work legally and could enrol their children in school without administrative barriers.

“Many of these spouses and many of these children who are dependents of the refugees were in limbo; they couldn’t access any socio-economic rights because they were undocumented. This allows for them to be given a temporary permit while their applications are being finalised.”

However, applicants must provide certain documents where possible such as a marriage or birth certificates.

The process of 'family joining' could be completed regardless of whether dependents were included in the applicant's original asylum application.