Home Affairs is one of the most “hated” state entities amongst South Africans. For years, people have complained about long queues, lost documents and terrible service. For refugees seeking asylum, though, the issues are a lot more severe.
It has taken multiple Home Affairs ministers and seven years for the department to comply with a court order and reopen a Refugee Reception Office (RRO) in Port Elizabeth.
At the same time, Home Affairs remains in breach of a separate court order to re-open the Cape Town RRO.
The department has now opened the Port Elizabeth office after constant requests and queries from the DA-governed Nelson Mandela Bay metro, as well as NGOs.
DA Shadow Minister of Home Affairs Haniff Hoosen says that the lack of action from Minister Malusi Gigaba and Home Affairs in Cape Town is an indictment on his leadership.
NGOs in the Mother City are currently urging the court to appoint a Special Master to oversee Gigaba’s compliance with the order.
The DA says incidents like this raise concerns around illegal immigration.
“The inefficiency of Home Affairs negatively affects asylum seekers who seek to regularise their stay in South Africa. The Department’s inability to process asylum applications could fuel illegal immigration as it will leave many refugees undocumented,” Hoosen said.
Last month, Gigaba gave the public an update on the department’s goals for the smart ID card. By 2023, they had planned to have everyone moved over from the previous ID books.
While South Africans were recently caught out by a fake post claiming that all green barcoded ID books will be expiring in 2018, the department does have plans to phase them out slowly over time.
With more South Africans flooding Home Affairs offices in an attempt to get their ID card, Gigaba also urged citizens to “not expect miracles” when visiting.
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