Rights group in court to force Home Affairs to reopen CT refugee office

In 2017, the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered the department to reopen the office by March 2018, but since then the department has missed several deadlines.

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

CAPE TOWN - An organisation for refugee rights is back in court to get Home Affairs to reopen of a fully functional refugee reception office in Cape Town.

The Scalabrini Centre and the Somali Association of South Africa, represented by the Legal Resources Centre, were in the Western Cape High court on Wednesday.

In 2017, the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered the department to reopen the office by March 2018, but since then the department has missed several deadlines.

The Scalabrini Centre was now asking the court to order the appointment of a Special Master to oversee compliance from Home Affairs to reopen the refugee reception office.

Another organisation, Sonke Gender Justice, was also being represented by the Legal Resources Centre and was making submissions on the social impact of the continued closure of the office on asylum seekers.

The organisation's Kayan Leung: "What we want to focus on particularly is the result of the continued closure has led to an increase in exposure to racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia, particularly for women, children and members of the LGBTQ+ community."

Home Affairs closed office in 2012 for new asylum applications, which meant that applicants had to travel to Durban, Musina or Pretoria.

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