Home Affairs reopens refugee office closed in 2011

South Africa

The Refugee Reception Office in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape was officially reopened on Friday by Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba.

The office was closed by the Department of Home Affairs in 2011, according to a report made by GroundUp.

After years of legal action, the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered that the department reopen the facility by July 1, 2015.

Years later, past the deadline of July 2015, the facility has at last reopened at new premises in Sydenham.

“The new office will provide adequate accommodation with which to extend better services to persons with legitimate claims. It has a streamlined process flow; open spaces; baby-changing stations; and multiple ablution facilities. Provision has also been made to accommodate the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs, Appeal Board hearings and immigration inspectorate facilities,” the department announced.

“It was a very long and bruising battle,” secretary general of the Somali Association of South Africa, Mohammed Kat, said. “We won all the court cases we brought against them, but the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) kept appealing our victory until they reached the end of the tether. They had no choice but to abide by the Supreme Court of Appeal decision.”

Despite being happy that the refugees and asylum seekers would no longer have to travel to other provinces to apply for permits, Kat said the reopening was a bittersweet victory because a lot of time and resources had been spent fighting the government in court.

The Refugee Reception Office is located at 10A Gibaud Road, Telkom Building, Sydenham, Lakeside, Port Elizabeth – Eastern Cape.


Photo credit – GroundUp

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