Home affairs not probing queue death
Lauren Hess, News24
Cape Town - The home affairs department will not be investigating the death of an unknown man at its Maitland Refugee Reception Centre, it said on Thursday.
The man, a 33-year-old Bangladeshi, was queuing for asylum-seeker documents on Wednesday when he died. He was apparently sick when he arrived at the building.
Passop's Langton Miriyoga acknowledged that the man was sick, but said guards apparently refused to let the man to the front of the queue even after being told that he needed to go to a doctor as soon as possible.
“They later realised that the man was sick and let him inside,” Miriyoga said.
Passop [People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty] is an activist organisation for asylum-seekers and refugees.
A News24 user who was also at the centre alleged that after the man collapsed and died, officials simply left his body in a chair for several hours before attending to it.
Home affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa told News24 that the department will not investigate the man’s death because he was ill. He could not say what type of sickness the man had.
When asked if officials’ refusal to help the man might have led to the death, Mamoepa angrily denied this was the case saying: “He was ill. If you go to the bank and die, is the bank responsible?”
Miriyoga, himself an asylum-seeker, said service at the centre is deplorable and the queuing systems are completely inadequate.
Asylum-seekers must first wait in a queue outside the building, then when they eventually get inside, they stand in anther queue. Once inside the building, foreigners usually wait for hours before they are attended to.
“It’s usually chaos,” he said.
Miriyoga told News24 that there are virtually no medical facilities and no officials with even first aid training at the centre.
He said Passop had received reports of people being beaten up by guards at the Maitland centre.
Miriyoga said Passop is trying to get details about the man so they can help with the repatriation of his body. No one has yet come forward to claim it.
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