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Cape Town - The Home Affairs Department is undermining the judiciary by not taking applications from asylum seekers, nearly two weeks after they were ordered to do so by the Western Cape High Court, says local refugee rights group Passop.
Director Braam Hanekom and a group of asylum seekers held a picket outside the Refugee Reception Office on Cape Town’s Foreshore to voice their displeasure on Tuesday.
The department was ordered by the high court on July 25 to help all asylum seekers at the Refugee Reception Office, but defied the order and instead appealed against it. The department lost the appeal.
Hanekom said: “Imagine if the Department of Correctional Services had refused to release Tony Yengeni? We cannot have this lawlessness.”
He said the department was denying people the right to apply for asylum and penalising them.
Osazee Iyamu arrived in Cape Town from Nigeria on June 24 and has already spent a week in prison after police caught him without his papers in Parklands. “I come here and there is no help. I can’t work because I don’t have papers. So I don’t know who is breaking the law… is it me or them [the department]. We are not criminals, we just want to live,” Iyama said.
Fatima Kilolo arrived from the DRC with her 16-year-old sister five months ago. They had to rely on a friend who they are living with for rent, money and food. “We want to be independent but can’t do that without [asylum] papers,” said Kilolo.
Langton Miriyoga, a paralegal officer at Passop, said the rights group had listed about 343 names of new asylum seekers over the past month who needed assistance.
“Everyone has a right to seek asylum. This cannot be allowed.”
Miriyoga said Passop would try to engage with the department’s deputy minister, Fatima Chohan, on the issue.
Home Affairs had not responded to queries at the time of going to print. - Cape Argus