Home affairs not probing queue death

2012-01-26 14:22

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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  • StarStruck - 2012-01-26 14:32

    Typical ANC capacity

      Jay - 2012-01-26 15:35

      Quite frankly I think there are enough foreigners flooding into this country. We need stricter boarder control.

      Fred - 2012-01-26 16:02

      @Jay - hey man, you must PASSOP or they will moer you... (-:

  • chantelebrown - 2012-01-26 15:00

    Wow, this is just a sad story regardless of the guy's originality. What happens to Ubuntu??

  • Janice - 2012-01-26 15:00

    It is very sad, but if you are SO sick, why go to home affairs on that day?

      Grant - 2012-01-26 18:40

      Exactly what I was thinking... Having said that though, who leaves a dead body lying around for hours?

  • Kgomotso Radise - 2012-01-26 15:14

    Queueing seemed to be order of the day recently. It warrant a drastic intevention in all this institutions particularly when suicide occured. (Like Elise Park Staduim, UJ & Home Affairs), very soon pensioner pay point & Lotto outlet are next to follow.

      Ian - 2012-01-26 15:22

      Is Elise Park stadium where they play women's rugby and soccer?

  • malcolm.dale - 2012-01-26 15:19

    Is this not a callous case of "for queue" too my mate - stand/sit and wait!!??

  • Yolanda - 2012-01-26 15:30

    This is really apalling. it's really not the way to treat another human being. But I have to say, I'm finding it hard to understand why the man was risked his life to go there when he knew he was really sick.

      Susan - 2012-01-26 16:25

      Sure that was probably because if he didn't have the police would harass him or worse still deport him while in a bad health condition.

  • Shirley - 2012-01-26 15:31

    There is SO much wrong with this story! Firstly do sSouth African officials/gaurds have no humanity? Secondly the fact that they have NO first aid facilities is shocking and thirdly-What if this guy had an infectious disiease which was communicanle by human contact/airborne?By the time anyone may realise this there are so many peole who have been exposed to him with the dead body "sitting" there! I bety you they STILL dont know what cause of death was! Shocking and shameful!!!!!

      Jay - 2012-01-26 15:42

      I think everyone is jumping to conclusions! Is it the guards responsibility to assist the ill man?? not sure, you see they are not hired to do medical! They probably told him on numerous occasions to go home and come back another day. There are far too many foreign nationals coming to SA because our boarder control is so weak. This is seen as an easy place to set up shop. The guy was sick and died.............and you are all shocked! do you have any idea how many South Africans (locals not foreigners) die alone and hungry each day in this country? how many are murdered each day in this country?................agg im sure im wasting my time!

      carlmhead - 2012-01-26 16:11

      Whether he is a foreigner or a local... He is another HUMAN BEING! Have some humanity; the state ethical treatment of other human beings is becoming deplorable. I'm by no means saying that African refugees are not creating a MASSIVE problem in South Africa. However, it is our duty to assist other fellow humans if we have such power to do so. Ignoring them and watching them die is utterly deplorable and disgusting and you should be ashamed of yourself for ever eluding that this behaviour is acceptable

      Shirley - 2012-01-26 16:34

      Jay: Not denying we have a problem with foreigners! Does one have to physically allocate the job description of showing some humanity to whoever works there??My point is that their uninterested view point is not only callous but dangerous-who knows what disease he had! He probably didnt waqnt to come back the next day as the ques are endless. A simple first aid station,some humanity is not asking too much! I hope one day if you are in a foreign country someone is kind enough to assist you and not say "agg you are asking too much"

      Grant - 2012-01-26 18:45

      @Jay - there's 2 points here. 1) Not helping a sick man - agree that sick people should see a doctor/hospital for help - definately not the guards' resposibility. 2) Leaving a dead body to sit for hours in a public place - what's the excuse for that? Dying alone is one thing - dying in a busy public place and being left there is beyond disgusting!

      Denise - 2012-01-28 12:17

      @Shirley The thought of an airborne disease at a public place is chilling, especially at a refugee centre where they would mistrust authority as a matter of course. We are not the USA where people can easily be located via their credit card use and safely quarantined. This is South Africa where a lone refugee with a deadly airborne virus could effectively destroy a large slice of humanity.

  • Megan - 2012-01-26 15:40

    I wonder how disappointed they're going to be when they realise that even after gaining refugee status they are still going to have to stand in the same kind of queues whenever they have to attend to something at home affairs - just like the rest of us. I feel sorry for this person, but why did he not seek medical help before going to home affairs? Harsh lesson to learn realising that home affairs will be there tomorrow, but you may not...

  • raymond.kok3 - 2012-01-26 15:42


  • THE_SAINT - 2012-01-26 15:45

    The whole home affairs department in SA is completely inadequate and its workers too...

  • JakesLR - 2012-01-26 15:56

    This country needs serious help!!I feel sorry for the future of this once wonderful country with the calibre of people now being employed in certain goverment institutions!! Millions more are flocking here from the rest of this sick continent as well to assist with South Africa's downfall at a faster pace. SA was one of the countries in Africa which there was hope for, but he rainbow's nations colours are turning grey at a fast pace

  • Hector - 2012-01-26 18:59

    What about all the dead people in chairs behind the counters .... Oh wait .. They work there ;)

      eaust01 - 2012-01-27 15:45

      LOL!!! good one Hector LOL

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