Asylum seekers win right to renew permits in Cape Town  

Nomahlubi Jordaan | 03 June, 2016 15:57

Gavel. File Photo.

The Cape Town High Court on Friday ordered the Department of Home Affairs to renew asylum seeker permits of refugees whose applications it had refused because they initially applied at another refugee reception office.

This confirmed an order given previously in this matter‚ and extended the relief to all persons similarly situated.

“The respondents are directed to extend/renew forthwith at the Cape Town Temporary Refugee Facility‚ the asylum seeker permits of the individual asylum seekers listed… and of all similarly situated asylum seekers living in the Western Cape whose asylum seeker permits were originally obtained… for a period of no less than three months‚” the order states.

On April 28 last year‚ the Legal Resources Centre went to court on behalf of 450 people who had been refused renewals at the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office (CTRRO). An initial order was granted by the court on August 31‚ allowing for the renewal of the asylum seeker permits at the CTRRO.

“The sole reason that they were refused renewals was that their permits were first issued at an RRO (Refugee Reception Office) other than Cape Town. Other RROs‚ namely Durban‚ Musina or Pretoria‚ are many thousands of kilometres away from the place that these asylum seekers call home: Cape Town. Asylum seeker permits have to be renewed every three to six months.

“Thereafter‚ the matter was postponed for further argument regarding the specific request that the CTRRO should renew the permits of all asylum seekers similarly situated to that of the initial 450. The matter was postponed until November 2015‚” according to the Legal Resources Centre.

“Being forced to leave their homes and travel‚ often for more than a week‚ in order to renew their papers every few months‚ places asylum seekers in precarious positions.

“Many asylum seekers cannot afford the travel and accommodation costs incurred in securing the renewal of their papers. Others cannot take the time off work and their children have to miss school‚” Martens said.

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