Court orders Minister to issue asylum permits

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Supreme Court last week ruled that the Department of Home Affairs should urgently issue asylum permits to seven Zimbabweans seeking refugee status in the country.
The Supreme Court of Appeal's judgment, which is a test case, comes at a time

when thousands of Zimbabweans are queuing for months at refugee reception centres in search of permits to legalise their stay in South Africa.
The seven Zimbabweans made an appeal to the Supreme Court early this year after their case was thrown out by the High Court.
They were accusing the Minister of Home Affairs, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, of denying them a chance to get asylum papers at Marabastad (in Pretoria) and Rosettenville (in Johannesburg) Refugee Reception Centres.
“The decisions taken by the officials in the Department of Home Affairs rejecting the applicants’ applications for asylum are hereby reviewed and set aside,” part of the judgment reads.
“The fourth respondent (Director-general of Home Affairs, Mavuso Msimang) and his subordinates are directed to forthwith issue permits of section 22 of the Refugees Act, to the applicants and to process their applications for asylum in accordance with the provisions of the Refugees Act.”
The ruling also declared that the current practice and policy of receiving applications for asylum at the Marabastad and Rosette Ville Refugee Reception Offices was unconstitutional and unlawful in respect of the manner of scheduling appointments and in respect of the pre-screening method adopted.
The Department of Home Affairs was also tasked with re-assessing the applications of the people who failed get their asylum permits between November 2005 and May 2006.
“The respondents are directed to advertise in a conspicuous place which would be visible to members of the public at both Marabastad and Rosette Ville Reception Offices, that the procedures employed to process applications for asylum at the offices from November 2005 to May 2006 were unlawful and that any person who was subject to such processes is entitled to have his or her application for asylum re-assessed as a matter of urgency,” ruled the Court.
The Zimbabweans were represented by Advocate Nadine Fourie of the Wits Law Clinic.

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