Plans to build refugee centres along borders

2011-05-27 12:54

Plans are under way to establish asylum reception centres on the country’s borders amid complaints that those close to business areas are a “nuisance and irritating”, the home affairs department said today.

This would also ensure that fewer foreigners entered the country, said home affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni.

The department was recently ordered to relocate a reception centre in Crown Mines, Johannesburg, after the business community went to court claiming the large presence of refugees rendered conditions intolerable for business.

They claimed that refugees misbehaved, littered, defecated in public and created a traffic hazard.

Apleni said this refugee centre, which accommodated 700 people, would close on June 1 and its operations would be temporarily transferred to a refugee reception centre at the Pretoria Showgrounds.

“This won’t cause any [of the] problems faced in the previous location because our ultimate goal is to move,” he said.

The department’s aim this financial year would be to identify a suitable area on the border, he said. “We operate on budget but in the next financial year, we will be able to open it.”

The closure of the Crown Mines facility would leave only two reception areas in Gauteng.

There were other centres in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Durban and Musina.

Meanwhile, Apleni said 11 home affairs officials had been arrested in the past two weeks for allegedly facilitating illegal entry of foreigners into the country.

He said some of them had been granted bail of R5 000 each, but that others remained behind bars. Three immigration officers had been arrested at OR Tambo International Airport for facilitating the illegal entry and permanent stay of foreigners.

A fourth person was accused of taking a R100 000 bribe from a foreigner who wanted to enter the country without the necessary yellow fever certificate.

In Durban, five officials and a local priest had been arrested, while an official had been arrested in Grahamstown for allegedly registering hundreds of fraudulent marriages involving foreigners and South Africans.

Apleni said the Hawks and the department’s anti-corruption unit were analysing all the marriages registered by these officials to determine the actual number of fraudulent marriages.

“The arrest of these officials sends a positive message that the government will leave no stone unturned to ensure those involved in such criminal activities face the full might of the law,” said Apleni.

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