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Home Affairs commits to re-opening Cape Town Refugee Centre in 10 months

The Cape Town Refugee Reception Office. Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

The Cape Town Refugee Reception Office. Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 14, 2021

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The Cape Town Refugee Reception Office. Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

The Department of Home Affairs has committed to opening the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office (CTRRO) in ten months. This has been accepted by the Scalabrini Centre and others who took the matter of the office’s closure to court.

This comes as the department conceded that it was in breach of a Supreme Court of Appeal ruling that it needed to reopen the centre, and never did.

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On Friday, the parties agreed to a recommendation by Western Cape High Court Acting Judge Alma De Wet that a case management system be put in place. This means that both parties will meet monthly and the department accounts for its progress in reopening the CTRRO.

The Legal Resource Centre (LRC) represented the Scalabrini Centre and the Somali Association of SA in court.

Western Cape regional director for the LRC Sherylle Dass said: “Home Affairs conceded that they were in breach of the SCA, Scalabrini order and that they failed to open up a fully functional Refugee Reception Office by the date that the court ordered.”

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She added Home Affairs was making progress now: “During argument, the judge made a suggestion (of case management) Home Affairs has now filed a new lease agreement for new premises and they say by April next year they should be able to reopen.

While the LRC agreed to the terms set out by the court this matter has been ongoing since 2016 and Dass said they have their reservations: “We’ve argued that we don’t have any faith in DHA because they’ve gone through this lease agreement process before and the deal fell through.”

In a statement earlier this week, the Scalabrini Centre made it clear that they wanted a Special Master appointed to the case to ensure that Home Affairs complies with the court order. The statement reads: “DHA’s non-compliance has led the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, as applicants in the matter, to re-approach the Courts. We are seeking the appointment of a Special Master to oversee compliance to reopen the RRO.”

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Dass said this would remain a legal avenue for the Scalabrini Centre should DHA not comply with the case management system agreed upon.

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