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The Department of Home Affairs said on Tuesday that allegations of corruption at Home Affairs offices in Marabastad and at the Pretoria Showgrounds (TIRRO) were not new, but such allegations were hardly ever brought to the attention of the management by the alleged victims.
This followed accusations made by refugees that Home Affairs officials were refusing to assist them without getting paid a bribe. On Monday, almost 2 000 refugees took to the streets to protest against this.
Police were dispatched to contain the situation when the protesters started burning tyres, blocking Soutter Street. Home Affairs spokeswoman Manusha Pillai said that if victims came forward with information about alleged corruption to the management of the centre, proper action could be taken.
“Where the perpetrator has been identified, the department’s Counter Corruption Unit has investigated such allegations and, where necessary, disciplinary proceedings have been conducted and appropriate action taken against such officials,” she said.
Pillai said no one had come forward to report the allegations of bribes to the centre management. She added that the management of the centre engaged with clients regularly while they awaited services.
“We reiterate that services rendered at the TIRRO and Marabastad offices, including at all other refugee reception offices, are free of charge. Any deviation from this should be reported to the management of the centre so that the necessary action can be taken by the department,” said Pillai.
The department had had a challenge at both the Marabastad main office and TIRRO satellite office in recent weeks when the security papers on which permits were printed ran out, but she insisted that people had been informed about that. “Clients have been advised to report during the second week of April,” she said.
People can also call the department’s anti-corruption hotline: 080 0701 701, but Pillai maintains that the centre management should also be contacted in instances of bribery or corruption.