PRESS STATEMENT | Pretoria High Court Awards Refugee Status to Asylum Seekers

Date: 16/09/2021

The Pretoria High Court has awarded refugee status to JN and KHG, represented by LHR, in two separate matters. In an unusual step, the Court substituted the decisions of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) denying JN and KHG safe haven in South Africa.

JN and KHG had originally lodged applications for asylum, which were rejected in 2015 and 2010, respectively.

Both JN and KHG fled to South Africa to seek asylum in terms of section 3(a) of the Refugees Act 130 of 1998 which states that a person qualifies for refugee status in South Africa if that person is persecuted “by reason of his or her race, tribe, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group”.

JN contended that the decision of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to reject his application for asylum was arrived at without consideration of the objects of the Refugees Act, international refugee law instruments to which South Africa is a party, and in a manner that is inconsistent with the. Additionally, it was argued that the DHA failed to invest sufficient time in sourcing sufficient information before determining JN’s refugee status, and relied on non-existing facts, which influenced its decision.

KHG challenged the Refugee Appeal Board’s (RAB) decision to dismiss his appeal for refugee status. In this regard, it was RAB overlooked overwhelming information, which painted a stark picture of the concerning political and human rights situation in his country of origin.

Charne Tracey, LHR attorney, said, “while we welcome the decision of the Court to award our clients refugee status, cases like these highlight the inadequacies of the asylum seeker process in South Africa. For as long as these internal appeal and review processes are repleted with such critical flaws asylum seekers will be at risk of being unlawfully expelled or deported from South Africa.

The decisions are, on the other hand, a positive sign that our courts are willing to grant an extraordinary remedy like substitution in these situations.”

LHR thanks LHR alumus, Advocate Lesirela Letsebe, for his representation of both clients on these matters.


For further information, contact:

Charne Tracey

Attorney, Strategic Litigation Programme


Tel: 084 612 0979

Thank you for joining
Thank you for joining the LHR Newsletter, we will be in touch soon