The Desmond Tutu refugee reception centre in Marabastad, Pretoria, where a man died. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
The Desmond Tutu refugee reception centre in Marabastad, Pretoria, where a man died. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Call for probe into why asylum seeker died standing in queue

By Francesca Villette Time of article published Feb 21, 2019

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Cape Town – The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has called for a speedy investigation into the death of one of its nationals who died this week while waiting in a queue at the Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Centre in Pretoria.

Muhammad Irfan is suspected to have died of a heart attack on Monday while he was among hundreds of people seeking asylum.

Pakistani High Commissioner to South Africa Dr Sohil Khan yesterday said: “The High Commission of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has learnt with great shock and pain about the passing of Muhammad Irfan.

"The High Commission demands an immediate inquiry into the matter and calls for a redress of the situation at the earliest.”

According to reports, the man did not die immediately, but the ambulance had taken long to arrive.

The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) said it was devastated and deeply saddened by the news.

CoRMSA, which works for the protection and promotion of human rights for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in South Africa, said it would monitor investigations into the death.

“CoRMSA and its member organisations have been advocating for better service delivery at Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Centre in Marabastad since its launch and opening by former president Jacob Zuma in 2017.

"CoRMSA awaits watchfully for the outcome of the Home Affairs and SAPS investigation into this death of an innocent man seeking protection from the South African government through asylum.”

Police has told the Cape Times’ sister paper, the Pretoria News, that an inquest docket had been opened.

Police spokesperson Augustinah Selepe said although they had opened the inquest, those close to Irfan said he had been coughing for about two weeks.

“A post-mortem will be conducted to establish the cause of death.”

The Department of Home Affairs also said it was investigating the reports of the death.

Cape Times

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