On World Refugee Day, a number of human rights pressure groups have accused South Africa of using detention and deportation as inhumane tools to manage its migration problems
Lawyers For Human Rights has written a scathing open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa saying his Home Affairs Department is in crisis and flouts court rulings in favor of asylum seekers facing the longest backlog in the world
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba did not respond directly to the criticism from the pressure groups and NGOs, much of which focussed on Lindela which is South Africa’s largest repatriation centre outside Johannesburg.
It was repeatedly referred to as a detention centre where human rights are violated.
At a function marking World Refugee Day, Gigaba said South Africa did not have a problem with asylum seekers but was challenged by illegal migrants.
Lawyers For Human Rights said South Africa rejects 96% of asylum applications, often after keeping applicants waiting for as long as 15 years.
It accused authorities of discriminating against African asylum seekers, noting that there was not a single white occupant of Lindela.
It said asylum seekers in South Africa have to endure official corruption and routine physical abuse from a system that cripplingly inefficient and operating in flagrant disregard of constitutional values.
Medicines Sans Frontiers has tabled an official complaint that treatment for tuberculosis and HIV /AIDS is absent from Lindela.