After more than 7 years of being closed, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) finally reopened the Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Office (PE RRO) on the 19th of October 2018.

In 2011, the Director-General (DG) of Home Affairs, Mkuseli Apleni, took the decision to close the PE RRO to new applicants, thereby limiting access to refugee services which in turn caused the majority of the asylum seeker population to travel long distances in order to continuously renew their permits. The closure of the office resulted in significant prejudice for asylum seekers in the Eastern Cape Province.  Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) brought an application on behind of the Somali Association of South Africa and other stakeholders to challenge the closure of the PE RRO. The High Court ruled the closure was unlawful and the DHA appealed that decision to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), in Minister of Home Affairs & others v Somali Association of South Africa & another, ordered the DHA to restore the refugee reception services to the Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Centre by the 1st of July 2015, such that new applicants for asylum will be able to make applications. The SCA had found that the DG’s decision to close the PE RRO was arbitrary and therefore unlawful. The honourable judges in this matter  states the following:

“many migrants, especially refugees and asylum seekers (who represent a small but significant portion of those who, for whatever reason, are attracted to South Africa) experience grave difficulty in legalising their stay in this country”

Now, after 3 years of the SCA’s order, 7 years of closure and further litigious processes by LHR to compel compliance with the SCA court order, the DHA has finally reopened the PE RRO atThe Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Office is located at 10A Gidbaud Road, Telkom Building, Sydenham, Lakeside. LHR’s Head of Strategic Litigation Programme’s Wayne Ncube said “ We welcome this development after more than half a decade of litigation. Hopefully the reopening of the Reception Office will alleviate the plight of many asylum seekers and ensure access to documentation for them and their families”. It is regrettable that this had to go to court to be resolved.


For more information please contact Carol Mohlala, Media and Communications Manager on 079 238 9826 or Wayne Ncube, Strategic Litigation Programme Manager on 011 339 1960