Home Affairs bows to ZEF pressure(01-02-07)

Rights of refugees re-instated
PRETORIA - The South Africa Government has officially acknowledged the right of Zimbabwean asylum seekers and refugees to work and study after being taken to task by the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) over their discriminatory behaviour towards the

In a fax dated January 25, 2007 and addressed to ZEF, the Home Affairs Office in Rosettenville, Johannesburg, acknowledged having received correspondence from ZEF over the unfair treatment given to Zimbabwean asylum seekers.
“Please be informed that our department is committed to upholding the principles enshrined in Chapter 2 of our Constitution – to treat people equally,” wrote M E Macanda of the Rosettenville Refugee Reception Office.
“After a number of consultations with various stakeholders, the department decided to waive the above prohibition (on the right to work and study),” the fax continues.
Macanda said the decision was taken in line with the powers of the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs as embedded in the Refugees Act. She called on all applicants who were issued with these permits to approach the office either for extension of their permits or otherwise have this prohibition waived.
“Should you have knowledge of any other clients who still possess permits bearing the prohibition, please advise to report at our office for necessary amendments to be effected,” further advised Macanda.
ZEF had written to the Home Affairs office in a letter dated October 17, 2006 stating that ” we have received several reports from Zimbabwean asylum-seekers that they have been issued with asylum-seeker’s permits by your offices which stipulate that they are not allowed to work and/or study in South Africa. The permits which were shown to us were issued in the week commencing on 9 October 2006 and all emanated from Rosettenville.
“What we find to be most disconcerting is that such prohibitive permits were allegedly issued to Zimbabwean asylum-seekers only whilst asylum-seekers of other nationalities were not put under such restrictions during the same period. This, if confirmed would clearly indicate an unconstitutional and unjustifiable segregatory policy against Zimbabwean asylum-seekers by your department,” reads the ZEF letter
ZEF had threatened to institute legal proceedings against Home Affairs should there be no proper redress to the situation; and as a way to seek a solution for the plight of the affected Zimbabwean asylum seekers. – CAJ News

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