PRESS STATEMENT | Western Cape High Court Grants Order Declaring DHA in Breach of a Court Order Mandating Re-opening of Cape Town Refugee Reception Office

Date: 19/05/2021

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) welcomes the recent order granted by the Western Cape High Court as a positive step in ensuring that the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) complies with its obligations to abide by international law in respect of refugee and asylum seeker rights.

On 12 May 2021, LHR represented Sonke Gender Justice (Sonke) as amicus curiae in the matter of Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town (Scalabrini) v Department of Home Affairs.

An order was sought declaring that the DHA is in breach of a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) order dated 29 September 2017 compelling the prompt reopening of the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office (CTRRO).

The matter has now been subjected to case management before the judge, and the DHA is required to submit monthly reports detailing the steps taken to open a fully functional CTRRO in relation to office premises, operational budget, personnel, and IT equipment.

This order is a significant development for migrants in South Africa in light of the access barriers that asylum seekers and refugees have encountered as RROs across the country have been shuttered.  These impacts have been exacerbated by the limited services provided to asylum seekers and refugees over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many migrants have been left incapable of obtaining or renewing their documentation, leaving them vulnerable to arrest, detention, and deportation.

LHR’s participation in this matter was generously supported by Terre des Hommes, Porticus, and the Open Society Foundation.

For more information, please contact:

Lawyers for Human Rights:

Charné Tracey

Telephone: +27 (0) 11 3391960

Sonke Gender Justice:

Kayan Leung

078 302 7887


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