Sonke supports efforts to keep refugee reception offices open

Civil Society makes another litigation attempt to stop the closure of RROs

The struggle to keep Refugee Reception Offices open continues across the country with another litigation effort on the closure of the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office. The Department of Home Affairs has been implementing (an unofficial) policy which has seen the closure thus far of the Crowne Mines RRO (Johannesburg) in May 2011; the Port Elizabeth RRO in November 2011 and the Cape Town office which closed its doors in June this year. Efforts were made to reverse the closure of Crowne Mines and Port Elizabeth RROs through various avenues including litigation. To date, despite civil society having have won the two cases against the closure of the Crowne Mines RRO and the Port Elizabeth RRO in the High Court, the Department of Home Affairs has remained unwavering in keeping these two offices closed.

The Cape Town case, heard on the 19th of July was another effort to push the government to respect the laws of this country by retaining these offices, which play a vital role in ensuring that refugees and asylum seekers are able to access enabling documentation. Other efforts which have been made include the picket hosted by CoRMSA in June at which a memorandum was submitted to the Department of Home Affairs demanding that they stop the closure of Refugee Reception Offices. In the same spirit, CoRMSA has demonstrated its solidarity with other civil groups on the 19th of July, the day of the court hearing, by hosting an inter-denominational vigil to continue lobbying the government to reconsider the closure of refugee reception offices.

CoRMSA continues to demand that the Department of Home Affairs begins taking heed of the court rulings and actually implements them with regards to the Crowne Mines and PE offices. We demand that they acknowledge the rule of law and also accord refugees and asylum seekers their rights. CoRMSA remains committed to the fight against the closure of refugee reception offices.
Judgement on the Cape Town hearing has been reserved until next week.

For more information contact:

Tal Schreier
University of Cape Town Refugee Rights Unit
021 650 5493

Gwadamirai Majange
Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA)
011 403 7560 / 083 501 8761

Miranda Madikane
021 465 6433