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Scalabrini Centre hopeful CT Refugee Reception Office reopens soon

The office has been closed for seven years, further burdening asylum seekers. It was due to reopen in March 2018, but the Home Affairs Department missed the deadline.

FILE: The entrance to the Maitland Refugee Reception Centre in Cape Town. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN – NGO the Scalabrini Centre is hopeful the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office will eventually open early next year.

It's been closed for seven years, further burdening asylum seekers. It was due to reopen in March 2018, but the Home Affairs Department missed the deadline.

The Department of Public Works said the centre would open in January 2020. Asylum seekers can only apply in Durban, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Musina.

The Department of Public Works said due to budget constraints and high costs it would lease a building in Bellville. It is 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’re very happy that the accommodation has been found.”

Madikane said without documentation, foreign nationals were unable to access basic services such as healthcare, education and employment. They also feared being arrested.

“When you’re living without documents in South Africa it’s extremely dangerous and it places massive pressure on people.”