Watch: President Zuma Fulfills One Of His SONA Promises


Earlier this week, the Presidency released a report re-echoing President Zuma’s commitment towards visiting and upgrading the Home Affairs office at Marabastad as promised during his State of the Nation Address (Sona) speech.

The decision to facelift the center came when Zuma visited the Marabastad taxi and bus rank in 2016. During the visit, foreign nationals in the area complained about long queues, overcrowding, allegations of corruption and criminal syndicates at the refugee center.

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Zuma was also told that the center was marred by staff shortages, slow IT systems, inadequate filing systems, and poor management.

The president at the time undertook to have the situation followed up by the Department of Home Affairs.

Today, the President is in Pretoria where he has officially opened the upgraded office. Zuma didn’t only launch the revamped Home Affairs office, he also renamed it after Nobel Peace Prize laureate and veteran South African anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Zuma announced that the center will officially be known as the Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Centre.

He also did a walk-about the building accompanied by Home Affairs officials including the Minister Malusi Gigaba.

The revamped refugee center was equipped with numerous self-extension machines to help fast track the booking process for foreigners.

Other improvements made at the center include new signage, counters, and lighting, a new security system and electrical fencing, an automated booking system and paperless processes. The rest are; off-site interpretation services, and an improved registry and filing system.

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Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni expressed happiness with the development, adding that the center will serve as the first appointment center for refugees in Marabastad.

Zuma’s visit was also confirmed by the Presidency on Twitter on Friday morning.

Here is the video of the official launching of the Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Centre

A research report released by Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) and the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS) in 2015 indicated that of the five refugee reception offices in the country‚ Marabastad Pretoria is the most corrupt with a record of 62%. Durban refugee center was said to have had the lowest record of 3%.

The report entitled “Queue here for corruption – Measuring irregularities in South Africa’s asylum system” was released in July 2015 at a seminar at the University of the Witwatersrand’s law school.

At Marabastad‚ 51% refugees reported experiencing corruption in the queue. Of all those surveyed‚ 13% reported being unable to access an office because they did not pay.

Even inside the refugee reception offices, 12% reportedly paid at least once to renew their asylum permit.

Nevertheless, Parliament has been urged to exercise greater oversight of the home affairs department in its management of the asylum process.