Corruption, violence rife as SA battles asylum backlog

The department of Home Affairs recently announced “remedial” measures in a desperate effort to stave off international criticism of its handling of asylum seekers, most of them Zimbabweans. It admitted a backlog of more than 150 000 cases in the review process.

Mkuseli Apleni
Mkuseli Apleni

The SA government initially downplayed allegations of corruption and gross human rights abuses against asylum seekers carried in a damning report prepared by human rights organisations in September, but has now changed course.

Home Affairs Director- general, Mkuseli Apleni, said recently that the department would extend its working hours from 8am–4pm to 7.30am-5pm on weekdays and also open between 8am and 1pm on Saturdays, to clear the log jam.

Human rights organisations have slammed the department for continuing human rights abuses. Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa called for more action. “South Africa has seen asylum seekers and refugees being turned away from Refugee Reception Offices because these offices did not have security paper to print asylum permits. Many poor refugees and asylum seekers were forced to make numerous trips to RROs as well as sleeping in the open,” said CoRMSA spokesperson, GwadamiraiMajange.

“More serious human rights violations were also witnessed. Security officers at Refugee Reception Offices were seen whipping asylum seekers as they were waiting to access the services which the South African government has committed itself to providing. This action to try and control the people through violent methods is a clear illustration of the lack of proper planning on the part of the Home Affairs.

“This action to try and control the people through violent methods is a clear illustration of the lack of proper planning … which amounts to direct denial of services for refugees. The frustration by refugees and asylum seekers is likely to lead to an increase in the already rife corrupt activities which take place at Refugee Reception Offices as security officers have been seen soliciting bribes from those people who had been waiting for days to access services so as to take them to the front of the queue.”

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *