Immigrants demand better service from Cape Town Refugee Centre

Protesters outside Wynberg Magistrate Court. Photo by Bernard Chiguvare

More than 50 immigrants on Wednesday protested outside Wynberg Police Station to handover a memorandum to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Home Affairs and Cape Town Refugee Centre demanding better services and accountability and transparency from the organisations pledged to help them.

Wynberg, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

More than 50 immigrants on Wednesday protested outside Wynberg Police Station to handover a memorandum to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Home Affairs and Cape Town Refugee Centre (CTRC)

They demanded accountability and transparency from CTRC on the money that the organisation has received from the European Union. According to a letter that they showed Elitsha, the centre received R6,2-million from the European Union to assist programmes for immigrants. They want to be treated with respect and fairness when they go to the Refugee Centre and also demand that Home Affairs renew their asylum status irrespective of the province in which asylum was first granted.

Elitsha spoke to some of the African nationals who claim they were unfairly treated by the CTRC.

“Cape Town Refugee Centre promised to pay rent for me as from March this year but up to now, they have not done so. They even called me to bring my landlord bank account but nothing yet has been done. They just filed the account in my CTRC file in their office,” says Anna Ebinda, a DRC national who has been in the country since 2011.

Ebinda told Elitsha that she is unemployed and friends have been assisting in paying her rent. Her husband at times works as a car guard and manages to make only a very little per month.

“Leaving the account number was only to show to the donors that they are doing something but in actual fact nothing takes place. Right now my friends cannot afford paying my rent. They asked me to start paying on my own as from December,” she says.

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The landlord in Kraaifontein is asking for R3000 rent per month.

“I do not know where I will get that money,” says Ebinda.

In an email response to Elitsha, the Cape Town Refugee Centre argued that over the last two months they have contributed to the rents of 200 individuals and families.

Rehema Korora who is originally from the DRC, obtained her first asylum paper from Durban and has no money for the transport to go back to Durban for renewal.

“I went to CTRC twice seeking assistance for transport money to Durban. I wanted to renew my asylum paper but I was chased away. It is of no use going there again because those people are rude, especially the security at the entrance,”says Korora.

She has been renewing the asylum several times here in Cape Town. The permit expired in 2014 and she can no longer go back to Durban since the Cape Town Refugee office can no longer serve her.

“Really I do not know what to do. I am a single mother supporting four children. Salon business is no longer sustainable in townships. Sometimes I do not bring any money home. Friends and well wishers assist me on my daily needs,” she says.

Korora, 32 says going to Durban and back will cost her close to R1500.

“I have no means of raising such an amount. I have no relatives in Durban so I have to book for accommodation. This is too much. CTRC should bear with us. I cannot go back again to DRC because of the war,” she says.

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In response to Korora’s claim of not getting help from the the Cape Town office, it stated: “In the last two months, we have assisted 100 individuals and families with transport from Cape Town to the various province and back to renew their papers.”

The Centre denied knowledge of the R6,2-million and they called upon the leaders of the immigrants to provide proof.

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About Bernard Chiguvare 27 Articles
Originally from Zimbabwe and since 2014 I been contributing to different publications in South Africa. My area of focus as a reporter is on the rights of vulnerable communities and foreign nationals in any country.