Desperate asylum seekers petition UNHCR (21-06-07)

A grouping of Zimbabwean asylum seekers on Saturday called on the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to intervene by granting them temporary permits or forcing SA Home Affairs to open its refugee reception centres.
The action came just after arrest of a large number of asylum

seekers at Marabastad reception centre in Pretoria on Friday night.
“We are now left without any option since there is no sign that the strike by SA civil servants will end soon,” Vincent Luphahla, 38, said.
It is reported that hundreds of Zimbabweans who failed to renew their asylum documents due to the ongoing strike were arrested countrywide during the first week of June.
Reception centres in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban were closed due to the strike while Rosettenville Refugee Reception in Johannesburg suspended issuing asylum papers to Zimbabwean nationals for reasons not clear to the public since February this year.
UNHCR Senior regional information officer Jack Redden said his office was looking into the matter.
Investigations carried out by journalists last week proved that hundreds of Zimbabweans had opted to shelter at Refugee reception centres in fear of being arrested and deported.
Department of Home Affairs Refugees director Busisiwe Mkhwebane-Tshehla expressed concern over the matter but blamed everything on the strike and said the situation was beyond her control.
Zimbabweans accused their ambassador to SA, Simon Khaya Moyo, for failing to assist and neglecting them.
“Khaya Moyo is not at all concerned with Zimbabweans here. He is just quite like serious gold dealer who has come here to administer his illegal businesses. He passes here every day but is not even concerned to come and talk to us. We as Zimbabweans not only asylum seekers we expect to see him addressing issues affecting us here,” said disgruntled Ronne Makumborofa. – Nokhuthula Khumalo

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