Better help for refugees
New North End reception centre aimed at wiping out corruption
The newly launched Port Elizabeth refugee reception office has been hailed as being at the forefront of documenting asylum seekers and will virtually eliminate the endemic corruption which saw the closure of the previous Bay office.
The almost fully automated system implemented at the new office in Gibaud Street in Sydenham was officially opened on Friday by home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba, accompanied by a delegation from the national and provincial departments of home affairs as well as Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani.
Gigaba said the new system would effectively minimise the influence of corruption and other challenges which led to the closure of the initial office in 2011 located in North End.
“We are launching a centre of the future. A centre that is resourced with the perfect balance of human capital and upto-date technology that we will use to streamline our services and efforts in assisting asylum seekers and refugees.
“This refugee reception office will also ease the strain currently placed on Cape Town, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng refugee offices, empowering us to process applications much more efficiently,” Gigaba said in his address.
“We have rolled out a stateof-the-art automated booking system which is integrated with the national immigration information system . . . It does much to limit corrupt activities and enhances our drive towards establishing a one- stop centre catering to the needs of asylum seekers and refugees.”
Deputy home affairs minister Fatima Chohan said it was pleasing to be reopening the centre on a clean slate following the previous endemic corruption which took place at the North End refugee office.
“We had no option but to close the previous centre . . . It was being abused by persons and syndicates who were trafficking people into the country, bringing in illegal migrants, not refugees, into the country,” Chohan said.
“Those of you who were around will know this new centre is a far cry from the previous facility.
“Now there are several security systems and other biometric and digital-based systems used with an interface as well as off-site interrupters to ensure they are not influenced by traffickers.
“And so every part, including the outside of this centre, is under constant surveillance not just to protect against corruption and security purposes, but also to protect the most vulnerable who come here seeking asylum.”
The ministers were applauded by guests and other speakers, including the national director of the Somali Association of SA, Shukri Diis, and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees representative Ilmi Adan, who commended the department for its unwavering support for residents of Africa.
“[The Eastern Cape] is the historical home of exile heroes such as [Nelson] Mandela, Oliver Tambo and many others.
“And it is so fitting that Port Elizabeth is now the home of exiled Africans who left their homes for their own reasons,” Diis said.