Members of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) were at the Desmond Tutu Refugee Centre at Marabastad in Pretoria west today, hoping to engage the centre management on allegations of “rampant corruption by officials taking money from asylum seekers”.
However, the DA’s follow-up inspection did not go ahead as planned, as home affairs security denied the opposition party access to the facility.
“It is worrisome that we have people who can boldly tell us that that we are not allowed in here, there is no management, they do just as they please … that is the state of home affairs. You wonder why there is a situation of illegal immigration, as bad as it is. It is precisely because of this situation,” DA Gauteng North regional chairperson Abel Tau said.
“It [home affairs] is worse … it is a bigger concern when you have people saying there is no management whatsoever, there is no senior management, there is no one in charge taking charge of anything. And you wonder why home affairs is in the state that it is in.”
DA Gauteng spokesperson Anneke Skeepers said her party had been inundated with allegations of corruption and bribery as asylum seekers renew their documents.
“We will do our part to put the people who came to us with the information about these allegations of corruption – paying bribes to gain access to the centre – in touch with the department, to help home affairs with their investigation,” she said.
“We are concerned about the fact that we are not allowed access here today, yet again, to see what exactly is going on and if things have improved. The sense we got is that things have not improved, people are still soliciting for bribes. We are going to take these issues up, we will take it further and we will come back and have another appointment with the officials here.”
Most of the asylum seekers queuing outside the centre were cagey about talking to the media, but some who did not reveal their name due to security concerns, told journalists that money often changed hands in order for one to gain access to the facility.
The centre is in a crime-riddled area of Pretoria west, but members of the South African Police Service were seen doing regular patrols on the streets.
– African News Agency (ANA)