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Home Affairs ordered to aid asylum seekers

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judge Dennis Davis

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Western Cape High Court Judge Dennis Davis has stood by his decision to allow new asylum seekers access to the Cape Town refugee reception office. Photo: Neil Baynes

Cape Town -

Western Cape High Court Judge Dennis Davis has stood by his decision to allow new asylum seekers access to the Cape Town refugee reception office.

On Thursday, Judge Davis dismissed the Department of Home Affairs’ application for leave to appeal an interim relief order after it failed to comply with a court order.

Judge Davis reinforced what he had initially said in his original judgment in July, and on Thursday ruled that the “leave to appeal be dismissed with costs”.

He said the matter was “un-appealable” and without merit.

Judge Davis reiterated that Home Affairs did not follow the correct consultation processes.

In his initial judgment, he found that the department had not consulted the government’s standing committee for refugee affairs, a legal requirement, but had used the committee to rubberstamp a decision already made.

On Thursday, he added: “A judgment was given on July 25, we are now more than five weeks down that road and little has happened.”

Judge Davis questioned why more space could not be made available at Customs House on the foreshore.

Following the closure of the refugee reception centre in Maitland, the department had announced that all new refugee applicants in the city would be processed in Musina, Pretoria or Durban.

In June, the Legal Resources Centre and the UCT Refugee Rights Project filed an urgent application at the High Court on behalf of the Scala-brini Centre.

Steven Budlender, who represents the Scalabrini Centre, on Thursday referred to a series of affidavits from people who said they had been turned away from Customs House since the department was ordered to reopen its doors to newcomers.

Among the affidavits were statements from observers who reported how security guards had been turning people away, saying they were not accepting newcomers.

The court had in July ordered the department to re-open its refugee centre, now based at Customs House, and to resume documenting new asylum seekers and people seeking refugee status in Cape Town.

Judge Davis found that the department’s decision to close its office to new asylum applicants had been unlawful and unreasonable.

natasha.prince@inl.co.za

Cape Argus


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