Thursday, January 23, 2014
A 21-year-old Somali man, Ibrahim Abdulkhadir from Malmesbury, was turned away from the Cape Town Refugee Reception Offices (RRO) on 5 July 2012 and denied an opportunity to collect his asylum document and legalise his stay in the country.
He had applied for a document at the Department of Home Affairs Foreshore Offices on 14 June 2012. The Home Affairs officials asked him to return to collect his document on 5 July 2012. When he went back, he was turned away, as were others who had gone to process their documents on that day.
He went back again in September, but he was told that new applicants were no longer accepted. He explained to the security guard that he had already gone through the application process in June and was there to collect his asylum document. The security guards chased him away. They said as long as he did not have a paper to extend, it meant he was a new applicant; he should go to Pretoria or Durban to apply for an asylum paper.
This is despite an order of the Cape High Court that Home Affairs must process new refugees in Cape Town.
In November, Abdulkhadir was again turned away again by security guards.
He decided to go to Pretoria to apply for an asylum document. On his way to Pretoria on 5 November, he was arrested at a roadblock in Bloemfontein and detained until 2 December 2012.
His family obtained a lawyer who was representing two other Somalis travelling with Abdulkhadir. He was released after paying a R1,000 fine. The lawyer charged R11,500 for representing the three men.
At Pretoria Home Affairs he went through the application process and had his fingerprints and picture taken. The Home Affairs officials found his name in the Cape Town system and told him that they could not give him another permit. Instead, he should go and collect the one he initially applied for in Cape Town.
Abdulkhadir said, "The Pretoria office refused to phone Cape Town on my behalf and explain to them my situation. When I went back to Cape Town Foreshore, it was towards Christmas, and I did not get any help."
Again the security did not give Abdulkhadir an opportunity to go inside the building even though he explained to them that he was there to collect his document.
Commenting on the matter, Anthony Muteti of PASSOP said, "As soon as Abdulkhadir gets his asylum paper from Home Affairs with the UCT Law Clinic's assistance, he should sue the Department of Home Affairs for wrongful arrest, imprisonment, suffering, and the money he has lost."
Muteti said that from his days of monitoring the RROs, the Department of Home Affairs is characterised by gross inefficiency. Asylum seekers are routinely turned away before they have even stated their case.
He said a lot of people have complained about the security's insensitivity, ignorance and being overzealous. They may be working under instructions but they could also use discretion when carrying out their duties.
The Department of Home Affairs Cape Town did not respond to GroundUp email and calls.