Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba on Friday reopened the Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Centre. It was closed in 2011 following a court order. Corrupt officials had reportedly been working with human trafficking syndicates. Rights organisations then asked the court to force the government to reopen the centre.
It will offer services to new asylum applicants. The new office, in the Telkom building in Sydenham, offers state-of-the-art technology and boasts CCTV cameras in and around the building. Interpretation services are offered through telephone from the head office in Tshwane. This move was welcomed by immigrants, who had to travel out of the province to sort out their papers.
Gigaba said: “This centre is resourced with the perfect balance of human capital and up-to-date technology that will allow us to streamline our services and efforts in assisting asylum seekers and refugees, and deal with future obstacles.”
He said this was necessary to identify children in refugee situations. The office would reduce the burden on other out-of-town centres.
Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Boban said: “I’m so impressed with the technology used. There is no human contact involved and there is no exchange of paperwork.”
National Somali Association chairman Shukri Diis said: “The centre will reduce travelling costs of refugees and asylum seekers.
“They no longer have to travel to Durban, Cape Town or Gauteng to extend their days of staying in the country.”