The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation has written to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) Director-General, Mkuseli Apleni, requesting detailed information on allegations of criminality and human rights violations at the Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Centre in Marabastad, Pretoria.
The request follows widespread reports claiming that refugees are being ill-treated and forced to pay bribes at the centre.
In a statement, the Foundation says its condition for allowing the DHA to rename the centre after Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was that it be managed in line with the values, principles and objectives of the archbishop, the Tutu family and the Foundation.
On the World Refugee Day, many foreign nationals seeking refuge in South Africa say they face with many challenges such as corruption, harassment and arrests. These are sentiments shared by some foreigners at Desmond Tutu Refugee Centre in Pretoria.
The United Nations says 68.5 million people are forced to seek refugee around the world.
This week. Lawyers for Human Rights says South Africa continues to arrest and deport asylum seekers forgetting that they too sacrificed to build this country’s economy and democracy.
Various organisations held a picket outside the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp, west of Gauteng, to mark World Refugee Day.
They also wanted to highlight what they say is the inhumane conditions under which detainees live at the centre. Medecins Sans Frontier has laid a formal complaint about the Lindela conditions with the Offices of the Health Ombudsman and Health Standards Compliance.
Lawyers for Human Rights’ Kayan Leung says, “We have forgotten who has made sacrifices for this country. For this democracy. Have they not made sacrifices for our leaders? Have they not made sacrifices for our democracy? they were called here. Our economy was built on the backs of poor African labourers and suddenly when South Africa decides we don’t want you anymore, we can continue violating your rights, we will arrest and deport you like dogs.”
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba says South Africa will redouble its efforts to accommodate and provide protection to refugees. He says South Africa is one of the largest refugee host countries in the world.
Gigaba has called on other countries on the continent and the globe to take up the millions of refugees seeking a place of safety. He says South Africa is committed to protecting refugees and strengthen capacity to respond to asylum applications.
“We know that in some instances we are found wanting because of lack of capacity and sometimes inadequate policy responses, but we do our best under the circumstances. And our efforts thus far to host and provide protection to refugees has demonstrated our sincerest political will. This has made our country over the years to be one of the largest host countries for refugees world wide.”