Court setback for immigrants: Cape Town refugee office may stay closed

On 24 June, the Cape Town High Court upheld a decision to keep the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office (CTRRO) closed. The Scalabrini Centre and Others had challenged the Director General of Home Affairs’ decision to keep the office closed after being ordered to re-examine the decision and to do further research.

The Director General claims it is too difficult to procure sustainable space for the CTRRO. In all of its three former locations, neighbouring residents and businesses have complained that the high numbers of refugees make the office a public nuisance. The CTRRO has been ordered to vacate two of its three former premises.

The Scalabrini Centre argued that the difficulties in finding a location were to be expected, and it did not change the fact that Refugee Reception Offices (RROs) are necessary to protect the constitutional rights of asylum seekers. However, the judge upheld the claim that the difficulty in finding a location justified closing the office down, in spite of the burden placed on asylum seekers.