Cape Town’s refugee centre to reopen in January 2020

The centre was closed for almost seven years, which affecting thousands of immigrants.

FILE: Refugees queue at the Customs House building in Cape Town. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Cape Town refugee reception office, Scalabrini Centre, is expected to reopen in January 2020.

The centre was closed for almost seven years, which affected thousands of immigrants. It was due to reopen by March 2018, but the Department of Home Affairs missed the deadline.

The Department of Public Works said due to budget constraints and high costs, it would lease a building in Bellville.

It was expected to cost just over R21 million for a leasing period of over five years.

The Scalabrini Centre and the Legal Resources Centre took Home Affairs to court back in 2017. The Supreme Court of Appeal then ordered the department to open the office by March 2018.

The centre's Miranda Madikane said she was pleased about the recent development.

“We are feeling very happy that accommodation has been found.”

Madikane said without documentation, foreign nationals were unable to access basic services such as healthcare, education, employment and were afraid they would get arrested.

“When you’re living without a document in South Africa, it’s extremely difficult and dangerous, and places massive pressure on people,” she said.