This month saw an important development in the years-long campaign and litigation to compel the Department of Home Affairs to fully reopen the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office (RRO).
The Department closed the Cape Town RRO to new applications in 2012, without properly consulting organisations with expertise in refugee matters. The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town and the Somali Association for South Africa challenged this decision. A Supreme Court of Appeal ruling in 2013 found the decision to be irrational and set it aside. When the Department again decided to close the Cape Town RRO (after consulting interested parties that disagreed with the closure) the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2017 set aside the decision for unlawfulness and ordered the Department to reopen the RRO. Yet in 2021 the RRO remains closed to new applications.
In May 2021 Acting Judge De Wet in the Western Cape High Court proposed a judicial case-management system to oversee the Department’s compliance with the 2017 order. Under this system the Department will have to regularly report to and meet with Acting Judge De Wet and the applicants and provide details on the status of the Office’s reopening. All parties agreed to the proposal.