Refugees march to Parliament

2012-06-20 14:53

About 100 refugees and activists marched to Parliament in Cape Town against the imminent closure of the Maitland refugee reception office.

The group marched peacefully down Keizergracht Street today, chanting “we want papers” and “we are not criminals”, while beating drums and holding banners.

The marchers belonged to groups under the umbrella body Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa.

They oppose the Home Affairs’ closure of the Maitland centre and transfer of some refugee functions to Customs House, along the city centre foreshore.

Miranda Madikane of rights organisation Scalabrini Centre said the new office would no longer allow people to apply for asylum, meaning refugees would have to travel to Musina, Pretoria or Durban.

According to Madikane, the department received a letter of notice from the landlord to vacate the premises.

She said the department also felt compelled to move the office because of a court order from May 2010, when a neighbouring business complained about the nuisance factor of having hundreds of people outside the office every day.

Today, which was World Refugees Day, the group handed over a memorandum of demands at Parliament.

One of the marchers, Congolese Pascaline Mafuala (46) said she was concerned about how she would get her daughter a new study permit to write matric exams.

“I have been here since 1977 and have all the papers. Now the department says she needs a new one. I’m marching today because of my children,” she said while holding on to her seven-year-old son Freedom, who was carrying a sign saying “Love every child”.

The memorandum of demands stated that refugees did not have the means to travel to other offices, thus infringing on their right to effectively integrate in the host nation.

According to the document, contradictory information had been presented by the department.

“There are no indications of how processing asylum claims at border areas will improve access to the system, ensure fair and efficient adjudication of individual cases, or include a regime for low-skilled migrant workers to legally enter and leave the country.”

The group demanded that closed centres across the nation be re-opened and that the department halt plans for further closures. It called for consultation with civil society.

Home Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa was not immediately available for comment. 

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.