PRESS STATEMENT | LHR and Sonke Gender Justice approach court, as Home Affairs fails to re-open RRO

Date: 10/11/2020

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) will be representing Sonke Gender Justice (Sonke) who have brought an application to the Court to be admitted as amicus curiae in the case of Scalabrini Centre, Cape Town and Others v The Minister of Home Affairs and Others in a virtual hearing on 11 November 2020 before the Western Cape High Court. The matter concerns the Department of Home Affairs’ (DHA) failure to comply with a court order requiring them to reopen the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office (CTRRO) by 31 March 2018. Sonke seeks to be admitted as amicus curiae to make submissions highlighting the gendered impact of the failure to reopen the CTRRO in support of the Applicant’s request for a special remedy to address the breach of the court order.

Scalabrini Centre brought an application to have the DHA comply with an order to have the CTRRO reopened and sought a special remedy in the form of the appointment of a special master to oversee the compliance of the order. Scalabrini seeks this relief to ensure compliance by the DHA with the Orders and ensure the quickest most effective way to make sure that the DHA reopen the CTRRO.

Sonke is an expert NGO with vast grassroots experience in intersectional rights, including the intersection of gender equality and migration, reducing gender-based violence and refugee and asylum-seeker health needs, in particular women. An intersectional approach is one that evaluates how multiple and intersecting forms of oppression compounded and distinct vulnerabilities for certain groups in society. Sonke’s submissions are two-fold:

  • to motivate for Sonke’s admission; and
  • to advance Sonke’s submissions if admitted.

Sonke’s submissions are crisp, relevant and unique: they simply argue that the Court must take into account the existence and extent of the gendered impact of the continued closure of the CTRRO in crafting an appropriate, effective, just and equitable remedy in the main application. This gendered impact (in respect of women, children and LGBTIQ+ persons) is self-evidently more pronounced the longer the CTRRO remains closed and the longer the DHA Respondents’ non-compliance continues. Sonke intends to demonstrate how the closure of the CTRRO disproportionately affects women, children and LGBTIQ+ asylum-seekers, and how these persons face additional adversity to refugees and asylum-seekers in general. Sonke’s arguments support the urgency with which the extraordinary remedy sought by Scalabrini must be provided.

This matter is important as the application to be admitted as amicus curiae aims to ensure that the rights of women, children and LGBTIQ+ persons do not continue to be adversely affected by the continued closure of the CTRRO.

The Western Cape High Court hearing will be conducted as an online hearing. Sonke is represented by Advocates H Drake, F Ngqele and Lawyers for Human Rights.

Lawyer for Human Rights contact:

Wayne Ncube

Telephone: +27 (0) 11 3391960


Sonke Gender Justice Contact:

Kayan Leung

Policy Development and Advocacy Manager

Contact: 078 302 7887

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