The purpose of this virtual meeting was for the Committee to be briefed by the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs (SCRA) and the Refugee Appeals Authority of South Africa (RAASA) on their work and challenges in dealing with refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa. The SCRA and the RAASA were both independent committees of the appeal structure within the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), and reported directly to the Minister and Director-General for administrative support. Because they were independent, the DHA did not interfere with their decisions.
The SCRA said its administrative work had to be performed by DHA officials, and its role was purely that of decision-making. However, it remained dependent on the DHA for its budget and allocation of human resources to fulfil its mandate, and its activities to deal with outstanding refugee applications were being severely curtailed by staff shortages. In 2020, it had considered 1 356 applications for certification, of which 578 certifications were granted, 542 were considered but were pending finalisation, 90 were not granted without withdrawing the refugee’s status, and 146 were not granted, and the refugee’s status was subsequently withdrawn. The SCRA had developed an action plan to eradicate the backlog in processing applications. This involved filling the vacant posts and appointing additional members of the SCRA, as well as using the amendments to the Refugees Act which allowed a decreased quorum of the SCRA to attend to the backlogs. It indicated that the backlog would last for another 24 months.
The RAASA said its legislative mandate was to ensure that appeal cases were dealt with efficiently, effectively and in an unbiased manner. There were currently 124 000 active cases and 29 967 inactive cases, and a significant backlog in the finalisation of appeals. The contributing factors were mainly a lack of capacity and financial support. There was poor quality of information gathering and decisions made at the level of the refugee status determination officers, and an improved capacity was required. Its “Backlog Project” was scheduled to start in March, and it had an increased budget for 2021/22. A case management system was being implemented to manage the Backlog Project centrally. The appointment of additional staff members was under way, and the RAASA was focusing on streamlining the refugee status determination procedures through international recognition.
Members expressed concern that the process to finalise and conclude the applications was taking too long. The backlogs of refugee applications had been an ongoing concern for the Committee. It was uncertain whether the target of clearing up the backlog would be achieved on time. They appreciated the move towards the digitalisation of case files, because it would assist in the process going forward and decrease the time needed to finalise an application. The Backlog Project of the RAASA was welcomed, but the need remained for a clear timeframe and reachable targets to be set.
The Committee was presented with a spreadsheet that contained a total of 55 outstanding issues that had not yet been addressed by the DHA since February 2020. The Chairperson requested the DHA to provide the Committee with written reasons as to why the pending issues had not been finalised.
The Chairperson welcomed Members and the delegations from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs (SCRA), and the Refugee Appeals Authority of South Africa (RAASA). The ministerial delegation from the DHA consisted of Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, the Minister of Home Affairs, and Mr Nzuza Njabulo, Deputy Minister. Other DHA officials in attendance were Mr Tommy Makhode, Director-General, and Mr Jackson McKay, Acting Director-General. The chairpersons of the SCRA and the RAASA were Ms Jane Mugwena and Mr Nigel Holmes, respectively.
The main purpose of this virtual meeting was for the Committee to be briefed by the SCRA and the RAASA on their work in dealing with the challenges concerning refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa.
Dr Motsoaledi said that the SCRA and the RAASA were both independent committees of the appeal structure within the DHA. These committees reported directly to the Minister and Director-General of the DHA for administrative support. Because these committees were independent, the DHA did not interfere with its decisions.
The SCRA and the RAASA had significant backlogs resulting from the avalanche of people coming into South Africa since 2008 in attempts to seek asylum because of the dire economic circumstances in their home countries. Amendments to the enabling legislation of the SCRA and the RAASA were being utilised to address its backlogs, especially with regard to the reduced required quorum of adjudicators hearing applications and legal matters. The Committee would be briefed on the background plan, especially for the RAASA, to ensure that the backlogs were cleared up.
SCRA on its work and challenges
Ms Jane Mugwena, Chairperson of the SCRA, said the SCRA was established by section 9A (1) of the Refugees Act 130 of 1998 as an independent committee that must be allowed to function without fear, favour or prejudice. All members of the SCRA must be legally qualified and appointed by the Minister of the DHA for a period not exceeding five years at a time. The administrative work related to the functions of the SCRA must be performed by DHA officials, and its role was purely that of decision-making. However, the SCRA remained dependent on the DHA for its budget and allocation of human resources to fulfil its mandate.
The mandate of the SCRA was derived from sections 9C, 27(c), and 36 of the Refugees Act. Under section 9C, it was mainly tasked with reviewing applications in terms of section 24A of the Refugees Act, determining the period and conditions in terms of which an asylum seeker may work or study in South Africa while awaiting the outcome of their application. The SCRA had to monitor all decisions taken by the refugee status determination officers and may approve, disapprove, or refer any such decision back to the refugee reception office with recommendations as to how the matter must be dealt with. Lastly, the SCRA had to advise the Minister or Director-General of the DHA on any matter referred to it, including training that may be provided to members of staff at the refugee reception offices.
Under section 27(c), a refugee was entitled to certification in instances where refugees had been in the country for a continuous period of ten years and conditions in their country of origin had not yet improved. Certification would entitle a refugee to apply for permanent residence. Under section 36, only the SCRA was empowered to withdraw a refugee’s status. The SCRA must inform such a person of the intention to withdraw the refugee status and, after reviewing the representation (if submitted), it may withdraw a person’s status. After withdrawal of the refugee’s status, that person must be treated as an illegal foreigner in terms of section 32 of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002.
The SCRA was comprised of its chairperson, a secretary, eight SCRA members, one chief administrative clerk, one quality assurance officer, and 13 administrative posts. Currently, there were four SCRA member positions that were vacant, and these had to be filled as part of the project to eradicate the backlog. In addition, the positions of secretary, chief administrative clerk, quality assurance officer, and two other administrative posts were currently vacant as a result of a lack of funding.
Overview of SCRA backlog
Between January and December 2020, the SCRA had considered 1 356 applications for certification. The following was the outcome:
578 certifications were granted;
542 certifications were considered, but were pending finalisation;
90 certifications were not granted without withdrawing the refugee’s status; and
146 certifications were not granted, and the refugee’s status subsequently withdrawn.
During the same period, there were 642 voluntary status withdrawals, and 94 recommendations for withdrawals made.
The SCRA reported that it prioritised litigation matters. During 2020, a total of 4 049 notices of motion had been served, including 1 549 letters of demand. The SCRA’s functions included the review of decisions that were rejected on the basis that they were manifestly unfounded, abusive or fraudulent. In this regard, there were still 211 cases that needed to be attended to. In addition, there was a backlog of decisions from the Refugee Status Determination Officers that must be reviewed, amounting to 28 549 cases. Under section 24(3)(b) of the Refugees Act, the SCRA had received 15 735 cases to review, and 1 310 of these cases had been referred back, 2 637 decisions set aside, and 11 788 decisions upheld.
Since 2008, the SCRA had received 20 672 applications for certification, and 14 441 of these applications had been processed fully. Currently, there was a backlog of 6 231 applications for consideration that the SCRA must still attend to.
The SCRA had developed an action plan to eradicate its backlog in reviewing and processing applications. This involved filling the vacant posts and appointing additional members of the SCRA. Lastly, it involved using the amendments to the Refugees Act relating to a decreased quorum of the SCRA, to attend to the issues of backlogs. The backlog would last for another 24 months.
Challenges and the way forward
Regarding the challenges faced, the SCRA and the refugee reception offices reported not being fully functional during the COVID-19 pandemic, with staff operating on a rotational basis. The administrative component of the SCRA at its head office needed to be fully capacitated to support its workload, and the DHA had been engaged in this regard. The provision of SCRA support to refugee reception offices must be capacitated to provide support to its members deployed at each office.
Another challenge was that the SCRA needed the file contents to be available to review applications. A pro-active review of applications would reduce litigation, and effective instructions served may reduce an abuse of the judicial system. The upgrading of the SCRA’s IT-infrastructure and the availability of enabling tools of trade, such as computers and office equipment, would be needed once the SCRA was fully capacitated. In addition, the physical working space that was currently available for the SCRA’s required personnel was not conducive to compliance with the COVID-19 restrictions in place. The SCRA had requested the installation of desk protective screens from the DHA, and officials were working on a rotational basis to mitigate the health risks of COVID-19 and the adherence to social distancing.
On a more positive note, the Minister of the DHA had approved the appointment of six SCRA members on a contractual basis. During the COVID-19 lockdown, the SCRA had managed to review 15 735 cases relating to section 24(3)(b) of the Refugees Act. It had also managed to audit its whole registry to enable it to know the precise status of each application for certification. It continued to work towards eradicating the backlog in applications, despite the significant lack of human resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
RAASA on its work and challenges
Mr Nigel Holmes, Chairperson of RAASA, said the purpose of the briefing was to inform the Committee of the RAASA’s current status and immediate plans, including key aspects of its mandate and its role in alleviating the current backlog.
RAASA’s legislative mandate was to ensure that appeal cases were dealt with efficiently, effectively and in an unbiased manner in accordance with the Refugees Act. It had been established in terms of the Refugees Act as an independent body functioning as an administrative tribunal, and had to comply with its various international and domestic obligations. Its staff complement consisted of 11 officials fulfilling administrative tasks across the country, the chairperson, and two RAASA members. All members were appointed on a statutorily limited contract.
Overview of RAASA backlog
There were currently 124 000 active cases, and 29 967 inactive cases, with the RAASA. There was a significant backlog in the finalisation of appeals. The contributing factors to the backlog were related mainly to the lack of capacity and financial support. There was poor quality of information gathering and decisions made at the level of the refugee status determination officers, and an improved capacity was required.
RAASA reported an inability to use conventional methods of serving documents on appellants, resulting from a lack of a case management system. In addition, the collapse of the Refugee Appeals Board in 2016 continued to have a significant impact, and had resulted in the inheritance of 3 000 cases that were not finalised. There was no research capacity to verify objective information on the countries of origin of refugees, and RAASA did not have the capacity to respond to litigation and court orders.
Mr Holmes provided details related to the various reception centres for the 2020 period:
Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Centre
Eight cases were heard, 1 550 cases were finalised by issuing decisions, 22 cases were confirmed as unfounded, 74 cases were upheld, no condonations were granted or dismissed, there were five cases where parties did not pitch up, 357 cases that were referred back to the refugee reception centre, and 1 449 cases were cancelled.
Musina Refugee Reception Centre
38 cases were heard, 246 cases were finalised by issuing decisions, 66 cases were confirmed as unfounded, 23 cases were upheld, no condonations were granted or dismissed, there were eight cases where parties did not pitch up, no cases were referred back to the refugee reception centre, and 149 cases were cancelled.
Durban Refugee Reception Centre
26 cases were heard, 529 cases were finalised by issuing decisions, 49 cases were confirmed as unfounded, 71 cases were upheld, no condonations were granted or dismissed, there was one case where parties did not pitch up, no cases were referred back to the refugee reception centre, and 408 cases were cancelled.
Cape Town Refugee Reception Centre
67 cases were heard, 189 cases were finalised by issuing decisions, 60 cases were confirmed as unfounded, 21 cases were upheld, no condonations were granted or dismissed, there were no cases where parties did not pitch up, no cases were referred back to the refugee reception centre, and 108 cases were cancelled.
Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Centre
30 cases were heard, 102 cases were finalised by issuing decisions, 36 cases were confirmed as unfounded, nine cases were upheld, no condonations were granted or dismissed, there were no cases where parties did not pitch up, no cases were referred back to the refugee reception centre, and 57 cases were cancelled.
Challenges and solutions
The RAASA reported that its operations had been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of the refugee reception offices, followed by a 60% reduction of its budget and the dedication of all its resources to the protestors in Cape Town. The RAASA’s “Backlog Project” was scheduled to start in March, and had an increased allocated budget for the 2021/22 financial year. In addition, a case management system was being implemented to centrally manage the project. The appointment of additional staff members was under way, and the RAASA was focusing on streamlining the refugee status determination procedures through international recognition.
The Backlog Project would be based on a bilateral agreement in Geneva to appoint a consultant to develop an implementation plan. An advisory group committee and an operations committee had been established, which included representatives from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The advisory group committee’s task was to provide input on the planning, short-listing and interviewing of applicants. The operations committee would deal with the logistics of file management.
The final implementation plan had been issued in August 2019, and subsequently approved by the President on 21 February 2021. All approvals were ready for a partnership agreement to be concluded between the DHA and the UNHCR later in March. It was reported that a lack of funding was the key reason for the collapse of previous projects created to address the backlog.
Several legislative changes had been made to prepare for the Backlog Project. The Refugees Appeal Board would become the Refugees Appeal Authority, to provide for a new persona for the entity. Flexible employment contracts had to be made available to all the RAASA members to make their appointment possible for the sole purpose of the Backlog Project. Legislation must also provide for the chairperson of the RAASA to have the discretion to delegate one or more members to hear appeals as required. It must also provide for condonation in legislation, and for decisions to be made based on the paper submissions received. It must provide for the referral of a case back to the refugee status determination officers if new evidence arises during an appeal, and appellants could be allowed to submit appeal forms electronically.
The DHA had expressed its commitment to supporting the implementation of the Backlog Project through three phases in 2021. The financial support from the DHA would include the payment of salaries for 36 officials (amounting to R39.26 million), and office equipment (amounting to R3.31 million). The UNHCR had also expressed its commitment to supporting the Backlog Project. The financial and technical support from this entity would include the payment of salaries of 36 new members of the RAASA (amounting to R107.53 million), support costs for technical information technology (IT) requirements for members, the provision of a dedicated UNHCR staff member to support the implementation, the provision of training and assistance to finalise a standard operating procedure, and the use of a dedicated database. Support would also be provided for the training of staff.
The Backlog Project had three scheduled phases.
The first phase involved the preparations that would lay the groundwork for the action items in the subsequent phases. This included the appointment of a plan coordinator and additional staff members, as well as the development of a standard operating procedure for the digitalisation of files for streaming and auditing. This phase also includes the procurement of the required equipment, and the training of all staff and members, and was scheduled to last for six months before completion.
The second phase would include the commencement of the auditing and digitalisation process of files, when staff and the necessary equipment had been put in place. This phase was scheduled to last for three months if every file was processed within five minutes. As soon as auditing, scanning and streaming of heritage files in the Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Office (PERRO) had been completed, administrative staff would commence with the same process for mid-range files, which would be ready for adjudication once all heritage files had been finalised.
The third phase included the finalisation of the mid-range and heritage files.
Communication and outreach
The expansion of the RAASA’s profile and branding as a world-class tribunal was crucial. Development of materials in various languages to explain the appeal process were vital to accessibility, and may be available by various modalities, including hard copy, a webpage, and IT tools such as an online notice of appeal, which would enhance accessibility to the RAASA. Regular outreach to asylum seekers had to be performed to inform them of the appeal process, and their responsibilities would contribute to file readiness and would ensure that oral hearings would proceed because the appellant was prepared. Regular stakeholder interaction was crucial to keep the community informed about activities at the RAASA.
Strategic member assignment by streaming:
The review of numerous files of the RAASA at the same time would be allowed by this strategic assignment. The development of digital streaming criteria and digital streaming form would be completed for all the RAASA case files. The development of streaming of all files for the country, the level of complexity, the claim profile, issues on appeal, and paper or oral reviews, was paramount. This was in addition to in-depth front-end streaming of files, including determinative issues, the application of case categorisation modalities with incumbent recommendations informing the approach, and focusing members to reduce file preparation, hearing, and writing time. This must be completed by the staff at the RAASA, and training in this regard was required.
Adjudicative strategy and the digitalisation of files:
A methodical, robust and flexible adjudicative strategy formed the basis of a strong foundation to any productive tribunal that was responsible for the making of fair, timely and quality decisions. An adjudicative strategy may include tools such as file streaming, strategic member assignment, and ‘group’ or ‘lead’ decisions. Refugees’ appeals officers would recommend whether an appeal required an oral hearing, or if it could be decided ‘on the papers’ that had been submitted.
A global reputation as an expeditious and cutting-edge tribunal required a flexible inventory. In order to achieve this, all backlogged files required digitalisation. If implemented, decisions could then be made by any member, regardless of the location of the member or the file. The available physical space was a serious concern at most of the refugee reception offices and at the RAASA. During decision-writing, electronic files would allow for writing efficiently in almost any location with a laptop. E-files would require a ‘digital signature’ encryption for security purposes, and to ensure they were ‘court-ready.’ This was in keeping with the DHA paperless direction and initiatives as articulated in its White Paper of 2019, and the 2018 budget speech of the DHA.
Mr M Tshwaku (EFF) said that every time the Committee received a presentation on refugee-related issues, it reminded Members of the painful instance where people of Africa were called foreigners or refugees on their own continent. If people from the African continent could not come to South Africa, there was no other place for them to go. There was a dire need for people to come to South Africa because of the dire economic conditions in their home countries, with low gross domestic products (GDPs) and ongoing wars. However, when these people came to South Africa, they were treated like strangers. It was unacceptable that these people were harassed in South Africa by the local authorities.
There was a terribly slow pace in dealing with these issues because of legal requirements that allowed people to be abused by the local law enforcement. What would happen after the nationally declared state of disaster passed? There would still be a significant backlog of people applying for asylum, and the process to finalise and conclude those applications was taking too long. Was there any prioritisation for the people in the Cape Town refugee camps? What data and information was used in the process of considering an application for asylum? Did the SCRA and the RAASA adequately consider the economic conditions in the applicants’ countries of origin? What indicators were used for the evaluation of such economic conditions? Did the SCRA and the RAASA receive any applications from Western or Eastern countries? He asked for statistics on the number of refugees in South Africa from African countries since 1994.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) said the presentations had shown a sad state of affairs. It was unfortunate that the SCRA and the RAASA, while they were performing especially important work in terms of their legislative mandates, were not equipped with adequate human and financial capacity or the necessary tools of trade. Why had there been no intervention in this regard until now? The system available to asylum seekers was collapsing as a result. She welcomed the partnerships with the DHA and the UNHCR, as well as the positive legislative changes. There seemed to be some light at the end of the tunnel regarding this issue.
Which country was affected most by not enjoying refugee protection? Had the people whose refugee status had been withdrawn, been deported back to their home countries? Did the DHA keep a record or have a tracking mechanism to ensure that people who had had their refugee status withdrawn or application for asylum rejected, had indeed exited the country? There needed to be tracking mechanisms in place to ensure that people who were illegally in the country left when required to, otherwise the entire purpose of the immigration and refugee system was defeated.
She asked for statistics on the costs of litigation by the SCRA and the RAASA during 2020. What timeframes were in place to ensure that the SCRA became adequately capacitated? It was shocking that the RAASA was expected to complete its work with only three staff members available. How long had the cases with RAASA been active for on average? The backlog in cases significantly impacted the ability of refugees to use government services and contribute to tax in the country. The Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) had previously reported that there was a massive abuse of the system in place for asylum speakers. Why had there never been communication with applicants via electronic methods until now? It was not a logistically sound plan to simply require or wait for refugees and applicants to present themselves to the refugee reception offices.
AGSA had reported that there were approximately 946 000 inactive applicants still in the country, but the briefings had reported only 29 967 inactive applications. Did this mean that over 900 000 inactive applicants had been deported since 2017? That would be quite an impressive number, although it was more likely that the government was simply not keeping track of what happened to people who were illegally in the country. She requested clarity on the dramatic drop in asylum seekers presenting themselves to refugee reception offices. It seemed as if people were simply entering the country without presenting themselves to the refugee reception offices.
The RAASA had said that one of its challenges was the lack of a case management system. How were cases finalised before a case management system was put in place? Did the need for the digitalisation of case files mean that the RAASA had been operating on a paper-based system since its inception? Regarding the issue of poor work done by refugee status determination officers, she asked for information on the training these employees were subjected to and what the required qualifications for the job were. It was unacceptable that these entities had to make decisions without the capacity to research the conditions in other countries.
Ms M Molekwa (ANC) asked how many cases in total had been rejected for asylum, or been referred back for reconsideration by the refugee reception offices.
Ms A Khanyile (DA) asked how far the process of filling the vacant positions had progressed. When was the request made to the DHA for the installation of protective screens at the offices of these entities, and what was the response? The DHA needed to prioritise the issue of ensuring that all officials from the SCRA and the RAASA had adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Did they have an adequate number of face masks and sanitisers to adhere to the health restrictions and regulations implemented in light of the pandemic?
She asked for more information on when the Minister of the DHA had approved the appointment of additional members for the SCRA. It had been said that an inactive case meant that the applicants or appellants were no longer reporting to the refugee reception offices -- was there a system in place to track inactive applicants to ensure that cases could be finalised? What were the reasons that the vacant posts had not been filled yet?
Mr K Pillay (ANC) said that the backlog of applications relating to refugees had been an ongoing concern for the Committee. It was uncertain whether the target of clearing up the backlog would be achieved on time. He appreciated the move towards the digitalisation of case files, because it would assist in the process going forward and decrease the time needed to finalise an application. The small number of files that had been finalised in comparison with the total number of applications received, was genuinely concerning. There must be a drastic increase in speed when dealing with the backlog.
The Backlog Project of the RAASA was welcomed, but the need remained for a clear timeframe and reachable targets to be set. The setting of clear timeframes and targets would help the Committee to exercise its oversight duties.
Mr Holmes said that all of RAASA’s resources were being used in response to the refugee camps and protests in Cape Town. He said there were no refugee camps in South Africa, and the camps referred to were those created in terms of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002.To call these camps refugee camps would become problematic in the long run.
The RAASA used various indicators, including domestic and international law, to make a fair decision within the South African context regarding the outcome of cases. This required a balance to be struck between international law and the contents of the Constitution. Objective information was received from organisations such as Human Rights Watch regarding the conditions in other countries that were relevant to the applications received for asylum. The information used was guided by the process of the handbook of the UNHCR for determining the status of refugees, and this required the use of information coming from independent international bodies reporting on the conditions and status of various countries. Each case was decided on its own merits and considered on how it related to the constitutional rights guaranteed in South Africa.
The RAASA did not have statistics on the number of refugees who had applied for asylum since 1994, as it was established only in 2000, at which time there were already 12 000 cases in the backlog of applications. However, the economic conditions in other countries had been considered when the applications were received.
Regarding the questions about the RAASA’s research capacity, he responded that there was no internal capacity to conduct research for the information it required. The cost of litigation was managed by the DHA’s legal services, and the RAASA did not have this information to convey to the Committee. However, he guaranteed that the costs associated with litigation had been decreasing because of the improved procedures that had been implemented. It had a large number of heritage cases that increased the average time in which cases were handled and finalised. There were outstanding cases from as far back as 2010, where people had entered the country for the Soccer World Cup that was hosted by South Africa.
The law had to be changed in order to allow for electronic communication with an asylum seeker. This was because asylum seekers did not have registered addresses and contact numbers when they entered South Africa. The reason for these changes was to ensure that there was a more efficient process of communicating with asylum seekers. Matters could then be finalised more quickly without asylum seekers constantly having to renew their permits to work or reside within the country.
Regarding the dramatic change in the amount of asylum seekers, there were a lot of factors in play when a person decided to come to South Africa. There was a case management system in place, called the national information system, which kept a record of the refugees in the country. However, there was the need for an improved system that tracked applications and cases from the start to finish, which could ensure that cases were finalised and concluded within a reasonable time.
There was training in place for employees dealing with refugees. He could not speak about whether a lack of training or poor quality of training was the issue. The law did not allow the RAASA to stop a case or application just because it had been inactive for a long time. If the person or asylum seeker could not be found, then the case could not be closed unless legislative changes were made. The RAASA followed the process of publishing the names of people that could not be found in local newspapers and in the Government Gazette.
Ms Mugwena said that information regarding certification were mostly requested from the asylum seekers’ lawyers.
The Minister’s approval of the appointment of additional staff members had been received in June 2020. After the approval, the DHA had several other processes, including evaluating if the funds were available, that had to be concluded before the approval was implemented. The recruitment process had started in 2020, and candidates had been interviewed, but none had been appointed because of a lack of qualifications and adverse findings through risk checks. Only two additional members for the SCRA had been appointed. The process of short-listing and interviewing four additional members was now under way, and this was scheduled to be completed before the end of March.
The request to the DHA for the installation of protective desk screens had been made in December.
The SCRA was not responsible for the deportation of people who were illegally in South Africa.
The SCRA would provide the Committee with written answers for the remainder of the questions to which it could not provide immediate answers, or that required time to compile the required answers.
Minister’s closing remarks
Dr Motsoaledi, said that the refugee and immigration systems were extraordinarily complex, and the problem was not unique to South Africa. It was a global problem. It was true that South Africa faced a heavy burden on the African continent. There was the continuous signing of new treaties and international obligations relating to immigration and how to resolve these issues. These conventions and South Africa’s domestic law made provision for people to seek asylum based on religious and political persecution, and discrimination based on gender or analogous grounds in their home countries. However, it did not mention the issue of immigration for economic purposes. Special permits granted by South Africa were not required by international obligations, but only to address economic issues in African countries.
He agreed with Mr Holmes that the camps in Cape Town were not refugee camps.
The third item on the agenda was for Members to consider the Committee’s resolutions. This included a tracking document in the form of an Excel spreadsheet that contained all the outstanding issues that had not yet been addressed by the DHA since February 2020. A total of 55 issues were still outstanding from 2020 onwards.
The Chairperson requested the DHA to provide the Committee with written reasons on why the pending issues had not been finalised, and the relevant reasons for its failure to conclude the issues that were assigned to the DHA by the Committee, as detailed on the tracking document of the Committee’s resolutions.
The last item on the agenda was for the Committee to adopt its minutes for the previous meetings held for which the adoption of the minutes was still outstanding.
The Committee adopted the minutes for its meetings held on the following dates in 2020:
21 July, 18 and 25 August, 1, 6, 9 , 20, 23 and 27 October, 10, 17, 18, 24 and 27 November, and 1 December.
The Committee also adopted the minutes for its meetings on 26 January, and 9 and 23 February.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.