Family joining in South Africa
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What was the 2019 court case about?
On 19 June 2019, the Western Cape High Court handed down a Court Order that confirmed successful negotiations between the Department of Home Affairs and civil society. This was in the form of a Standard Operating Procedure: Refugee Family Unification document. You can read the press release about this case here.
This case was initiated in 2016 by civil society because family joining procedures at the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office were not functioning. Many wives, husbands and children of refugees and asylum seekers were left undocumented, with no option to apply for alternative documents. They were, therefore, at risk of arrest, detention and deportation. Undocumented children faced difficulties in accessing schools. The failure of Home Affairs to join family members and document them resulted in families’ desperation around documenting their own children and spouses.