Zuma launches Desmond Tutu Refugee Centre

2017-02-17 16:25
The automated asylum system at the new refugee centre is demonstrated to President Jacob Zuma and Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba. (Lerato Sejake, News24)

The automated asylum system at the new refugee centre is demonstrated to President Jacob Zuma and Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba. (Lerato Sejake, News24)

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Refugee asylum reopened after renovations

2017-02-17 13:44

President Jacon Zuma reopens renovated Desmod Tutu Refugee Centre in Marabastad, Pretoria. The renovations were done in order to improve services provided for asylum seekers.WATCH

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma launched the Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Centre in Pretoria on Friday. 

The centre was formerly known as the Marabastad Refugee Reception Centre. Zuma said he visited the centre in 2016 and received many complaints, particularly from foreign nationals.

"We are happy that the centre has been named after a distinguished South African, who fought tirelessly for justice, equality, human rights and freedom." 

He said the values and the principles of the Tutu Foundation are in line with government's commitment to instilling a culture of ubuntu at the centre and all in government service delivery.

Zuma was taken on a tour around the revamped building by home affairs officials. 

During the tour officials showed Zuma how the automated asylum seeker booking terminal works. The machine is used for booking appointments. 

Before the revamp the centre was poorly managed and did not have enough staff. Its IT system was slow and it had an inadequate filing system. There were long queues, overcrowding and allegations of corruption and criminal syndicates.

Improved service

Zuma urged asylum seekers not to fall into the trap of corruption as government would not tolerate any corrupt activity within reception centres.

On Friday service at the centre was swift.

Some of the improvements include new signage, counters and lighting. A new security system and electrical fencing have been installed while an automated booking system, paperless processes, off-site interpretation services and an improved registry have been put in place.

"The revamping forms part of a broader government strategy on migration," Zuma said.

The president said South Africa remains in the top ten of countries that receive the most requests from individuals seeking asylum. 

Zuma said during 2008 the country received 150 000 applications per annum, however this number has significantly decreased to 60 000 applications.

Most asylum seekers are Somalians, Congolese, Ethiopians, Nigerians, Zimbabweans, Malawians, Burundians and Ghanaians around the age of 35. The Department of Home Affairs has declined 90% of asylum seeker applications.

Zuma said not all foreign nationals are in the country illegally and added that many bring much needed skills that contribute to growing the South African economy. 

Read more on:    home affairs  |  desmond tutu  |  jacob zuma  |  pretoria  |  refugees

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