President Zuma warns against corruption at refugee centres

Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma has warned that government will not tolerate corruption at refugee reception centres as well as in the documentation process.

He called on asylum seekers not to fall into the trap as the consequences are dire.

Speaking at the relaunch of the Marabastad Home Affairs Refugee Reception Centre, renamed Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Centre on Friday, President Zuma said the revamping of the centre forms part of a broader government strategy on migration.

“The interventions made will improve the service delivery standards of the centre to guarantee that all clients are treated in a humane and dignified manner, while also ensuring security.

“Most importantly, government wants to stop crime and corruption in the system and prevent crime syndicates from using asylum seekers to make money through bribes for permits, which poses a serious security risk for the country,” he said.

He said the White Paper on International Migration seeks to balance South Africa’s international humanitarian commitments with the need to meet its domestic requirements, including security and the social upliftment of citizens.

“One of the proposals in the White Paper is to move refugee reception centres next to our borders,” he said.

Prior to the relaunch of the centre, President Zuma, accompanied by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, toured the newly refurbished centre.

Before the refurbishment, there were allegations of corruption, the office did not have enough staff, slow IT systems, inadequate filing systems and poor management. There were also long queues, overcrowding and allegations of criminal syndicates.

As part of improving service delivery at the centre, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba last year launched the paperless system at the Marabastad Refugee Reception Office to contribute towards eradicating corruption.

President Zuma emphasised that government is not intending to create camps or to restrict the movement of refugees.

“South Africa remains one of the top 10 countries to which individuals seeking asylum go,” he said.

President Zuma also urged Home Affairs staff to work with clients in a manner that promotes efficiency, effectiveness and underscores human dignity. These are values that the Department of Home Affairs has been instilling over the years as part of its turnaround strategy.

“Government is committed to improving service delivery standards. South Africa will continue to honour its international and continental commitments to host refugees deserving of our protection.

“We will better manage the asylum process to balance humanitarian needs with security requirements. We will strive to put in place people, systems and processes aligned to deliver quality and speedy adjudication,” he said.

Improving service delivery

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said his department will continue to work hard to improve service delivery.

“The department will not rest but will continue to improve service delivery. We wish to see a South Africa that is free from crime and corruption,” he said.

Also as part of improving service delivery, in January last year, the department introduced the box system that brought some relief to foreign nationals as they no longer have to stand in long queues to get their documents processed. It has also put a halt on corrupt activities.

The box system allows foreign nationals to drop their applications or expired permits inside boxes provided by the department and then security guards collect the boxes and take them to officials inside the centre for processing.

The guards return a few hours later with newly printed permits. They read out the names and owners collect them and leave.

Most asylum applications are received from nationals within the African continent notably from Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Burundi and Ghana.

Source: South African Government News Agency