Home affairs needs more money for immigration‚ says DA MP

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.

Democratic Alliance MP Haniff Hoosen says the Department of Home Affairs needs to allocate more funding to immigration in order to deal with the problems at the refugee reception centres in the country.

On Monday‚ DA leader in Gauteng‚ John Moody‚ got firsthand experience of how foreign nationals are treated at the Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Centre in Marabastad‚ Pretoria.

Moody was first denied access by the security guards and had scuffle when they said he was not allowed inside. After intervention from a senior official‚ Moody was allowed in and witnessed how foreign national are kept like “cattle” inside the facility while they wait and hope to get asylum status.

Some of the applicants who were waiting outside also explained how difficult it was for them to get their documents‚ claiming that they had to bribe their way through.

Meanwhile‚ in the coastal city of Durban‚ Hoosen visited the Durban Refugee Reception Office‚ which he said was running smoothly – despite being under immense pressure.

“We were able to access the facility without any difficulty at all. We were warmly received by the management of the centre. We had very good interactions with the applicants at the facility.

“Our main finding was that that office is incapable of handling the demand it is facing. It has insufficient staff. There are only four refugee reception officers. These are the guys who interview each applicant‚ fill in the necessary document and send it the documents to the refugee board‚” said Hoosen.

He said some of the asylum seekers were beginning to lose hope that they would ever have legal residential status in the country.

“The problem is that there are thousands of asylum seekers who have come to the country and want to comply with the South African law. They go to that office but cannot get any help because that office can’t handle the demand.”

On the Marabastad centre‚ Hoosen said the problems at that office need political leadership.

“For years now‚ the allocation of funding in the department when it compiles the budget‚ the lease amount of money goes to immigration. Over the years‚ the problems have compounded…they don’t have proper facilities‚ they don’t have enough staff and I am not surprised about the report on Marabastad. This is a problem that has been going on for years now.”