Pretoria – An application to prevent the home affairs department from violating the rights of foreigners has been withdrawn, director general Mkuseli Apleni said on Thursday.
“The withdrawal arose from the fact that by the time the case was brought against the department the 39 inmates… had already been released or deported,” he told reporters in Pretoria.
The matter was withdrawn on Tuesday.
On 3 November, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) along with Passop [People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty] and 39 immigrants, launched an urgent court application with the High Court in Johannesburg.
The application was to prevent the department from violating foreigner’s rights at the Lindela Repatriation Centre in the West Rand.
The department received court papers last Friday, but the matter was withdrawn before it came to court.
SAHRC spokesperson Isaac Mangena on Thursday confirmed this. He said the department satisfied the SAHRC’s demand in the application to immediately release the immigrants.
“The department moved fast to avoid going to court by releasing them in batches, for a period of a week prior to the court seating.”
Apleni said Minister Naledi Pandor established mechanisms to monitor the number of days each inmate spent at the centre, to ensure they would not exceed the 120-day maximum period for detention.
He did not elaborate on the mechanisms but said the media would be allowed to view the facility on a ministerial visit soon.
“The challenges that had previously led to inmates overstaying the stipulated 120 days arises from, among others, a deliberate attempt to subvert the law by refusing to supply officers at the transit centre with details of their origin and/or nationality.”
He said another problem was with embassies and high commissions not assisting the department in identifying their nationals.
Therefore they were delaying the process of deportation, but Apleni would not be drawn on who specifically was causing the delays.
“This is something we want to work on as a department.”