Costly Protection : Corruption in South Africa’s Asylum System

Date: 15/09/2020

Intro paragraph:

Refugee Reception Offices (RROs) in South Africa are the gateway for asylum seekers and refugees receiving protection and regularising their stays in South Africa. It has been well documented that accessing RROs is an arduous task. Since 2010, there has been a continuous, systematic limitation of the accessibility of these offices, and as a result, a restriction of the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. Over this period, of the six RROs originally fully functioning in urban centres, three have closed their doors or severely limited the services they provide to asylum seekers. One has since re-opened after a court battle. Thus, at the time of writing, RROs offering full services were operating in Durban, Musina, Tshwane, and Port Elizabeth. The Cape Town RRO was not, at the time of publication, accepting new asylum seeker applications, and was only processing renewals, despite a Supreme Court of Appeal order mandating that there be a fully functioning RRO in Cape Town by the end of March 2018. Before 2011, there were RROs functioning in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Musina, Port Elizabeth, and Tshwane/Pretoria. The location of the RRO in these cities did change from time to time, such as in Johannesburg where the RRO has been located in Braamfontein, Rosettenville, and Crown Mines; or in Cape Town where the RRO was located in Maitland, Langa, and most recently at Customs House on the Foreshore, which is in the Central Business District.


This report seeks in the first instance to build on a similar report published by Lawyers for Human Rights and the African Centre for Migration & Society in 2015. Queue Here for Corruption reflected a quantitative assessment of corruption at South Africa’s RROs at that time. The revealed corruption at all stages of the asylum process: from an individual’s first attempt to lodge an asylum claim, to renewing documentation, through appeal processes, and in renewing refugee documentation. Overall, approximately one-third of those who responded to the 2015 Surveys that underpinned that report experienced corruption in some form or another.

Download the full report here.

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