Cape Town - Greenmarket Square refugees spokesperson Papy Sukami is fighting deportation by the Department of Home Affairs after his asylum-seeking papers were rejected by the Refugee Appeals Authority of South Africa (Raasa), which claims he is a fugitive.
According to a statement from Raasa dated Friday, February 26: “A final rejection notice by Raasa is ready and the department is in the process of serving the outcome. However, Sukami remains a fugitive as he is currently in hiding. The security cluster departments are assisting in tracing Sukami.”
Raasa is an independent body that adjudicates appeals by refugees who have been denied asylum by the department.
Sukami, who has been living at the home of a fellow Congolese national in Parklands, Table View, said: “Law enforcement officers came to the house where I am staying on the same Friday morning and confiscated my papers. Later that day immigration officers accompanied by SAPS came to the house and said they were there to arrest and deport me.
“They said my papers had been rejected and I am a fugitive. I wonder how I can be a fugitive, yet I am living at the address that I gave to the court when I was released on bail a year ago. I refused to move and they have left me alone for now, but they could come back at any time.”
Sukami’s lawyer, Ian Murray, said: “I found it strange because normally when the deportation orders are delivered they have a departure date, but the officials didn’t give Sukami one.”
Last year Sukami was charged with mugging two people in October 2019. Murray got him released on R2 000 bail but the magistrate banned Sukami from the Cape Town CBD unless granted permission from the investigating officer in his case.
Meanwhile, Raasa, the Standing Committee on Refugees Affairs (SCRA) and the department of Home Affairs on Tuesday briefed Parliament’s portfolio committee on Home Affairs on their work and challenges concerning refugees and asylum seekers.
During the briefing Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that his department hoped to eliminate the backlog of refugee status appeals within four years through an agreement under which the UNHCR will pay for 36 new members of Raasa, including their training and equipment.