SA reviews asylum procedures

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's Home Affairs ministry, working in conjunction with a Zimbabwe civic group, has started expediting asylum applications lodged by refugees fleeing political persecution in Zimbabwe. Remember Moyo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Action Support Group (ZASG) said his organisation

is helping close to 20 people each week with their asylum applications. Previously, the Home Affairs ministry was processing 10 to 20 applications in a six-month period. The long delays at times led to confrontations between Zimbabwe asylum seekers and South African authorities. The ZASG has been lobbying the South African government to change its policies regarding asylum seekers from Zimbabwe. Two months ago, the organisation petitioned the Home Affairs minister to institute an investigation over the delays and look at allegations that refugees at the Lindela holding centre were being mistreated. ‘We have now forged a good working relationship with the South African government concerning refugees from Zimbabwe. Genuine asylum seekers have had their applications processed quite fast, but those that sought to misrepresent facts have had their applications turned down,’ said Moyo. This is a change of policy in the way Zimbabwean refugees are treated by the South African government. As the result of demonstrations and lobbying by Zimbabwean activists, and a damning internal report that criticised authorities, the South African government has reviewed its laws. At least one aspect of life has changed for Zimbabwean refugees. – SW Radio Africa

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