File picture: Independent Media
Pretoria – A political and religious leader from the DRC turned to court for help after Home Affairs threatened to deport him back to his country to face a murder count and other related charges.

Paul Mukungubila said he fled the DRC because his life was in danger and if he had to return, he would suffer harm and an unfair trial.

He told the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, that he had 18 wives, five of whom stayed in South Africa and 19 children – 12 of whom live here.

He said he left the DRC in 2014 because of persecution and threats by the authorities of the DRC.

His organisation is called the Ministry for the Restoration from Black Africa.

He said he was regarded by his flock as a prophet and a man of God who possessed revelatory powers about the future of the nation.

The 70-year-old received asylum status when he arrived in South Africa, but it has lapsed. 

Home Affairs refused his application to have it renewed and the Refugee Appeal Board dismissed his appeal without hearing his side of the story.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha received notification that he had to be extradited to the DRC to face criminal charges in that country.

According to Interpol, the attorney-general in the DRC insisted that he be prosecuted, and for this reason his asylum application was rejected.

Mukungubila said the Refugee Status Determination Board simply refused his refugee status on the face of him having to face charges, without determining whether the charges were politically motivated.

It turned down his appeal before he even presented his case, he said.

Instead, it signed an order that he had to return to the DRC and declared him to be an illegal foreigner in South Africa.

He denied responsibility for any of the charges he is supposed to face and said he was involved in peaceful demonstration in the DRC.

According to him he had been a victim of the government of Joseph Kabila on numerous occasions.

He stated that during 2006 when he contested the presidential election, he was also “set upon by commandos send by Kabila”.

Judge MJ Maluleke said in terms of the South African constitution all persons had the right to present their case before any forum that was established by law. 

He thus had the right to appeal against his refugee status and to be heard before his application could be turned down.

“This is a classic case of putting the proverbial cart before the horse,” the judge said. He questioned how an appeal can be turned down, without the appeal even having been heard.

He said that based on Mukungubila’s affidavit, it was clear he would be subjected to persecution on account of his religion and political opinion if he had to return to the DRC. The judge also said that Home Affairs never refuted that this would be the case.

The judge said Mukungubila did everything by the book to try to explain his situation to the authorities, but his pleas fell on deaf ears or were simply not entertained.

He said it was in fact against the law for Home Affairs not to consider his appeal at all.

The judge ordered that Mukungubila may not be deported until his appeal had been heard and determined. He also declared that in future nobody’s refugee status may depend on the fact that there were extradition proceedings against him or her.

The judge said refugee status should be independent from extradition proceedings.

Pretoria News