This report seeks to raise awareness of the discrimination that LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers face in the South African employment and housing markets. Discriminatory practices against the LGBTI community and foreigners, coupled with the lack of enforcement of existing anti-discrimination laws, create barriers to employment and housing for LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers. The South African asylum process further hinders LGBTI asylum seekers’ access to stable and secure housing and employment.
42 Years of service to South Africa, Mr Joubert will be greatly missed
On behalf of PASSOP (People Against Suffering, Oppression, and Poverty), as a citizen of South Africa and as an activist for immigrant rights I would like to express its condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of Mr Frederick Joubert. His death is a great loss not only to the Department of Home Affairs, but also to all South Africans and immigrants. We had the privilege of witnessing his great work ethic, his high level of integrity and positive attitude towards serving people during the Zimbabwean Dispensation Project (ZDP). At a moving memorial service organized and hosted by the department of Home Affairs Mr. Yusuf Simons (the departments provincial manager) told of how Mr. Joubert served the department of home affairs for 42 years, providing dedicated and committed service at all offices he served in. The department of home affairs did well to recognize his contribution; it was really moving and certainly made me feel like the department really cares about its staff. I was greatly moved by the large and diverse group of home affairs officials who paid tribute to him, he was loved and respected by most of the people he worked with. His life’s work was to serve people and he must have served tens of thousands of South Africans with ID’s, birth certificates, passports and thousands of Zimbabweans with visas. He was a good, honest, fair, and hardworking man and he will be greatly missed.
COSATU and PASSOP are extremely disappointed by the DA’s allegations that the ANC and Minister Tina Joematt-Pettersson are fueling violence in De Doorns.
We are extremely disappointed by the unfounded and misguided allegations that the ANC or the Minister of Agriculture has in any way supported violence during any strike action. We also rubbish claims by the DA that humanitarian aid by either the ANC or Minister of Agriculture was donated to leaders of any organization and any suggestion that the aid was distributed to organizations. We also want to set the record straight on the following points:
- The Department of Agriculture was approached by PASSOP privately due to concerns over the extreme poverty and humanitarian crisis experienced by the rural community of De Doorns, which depends entirely on income from the agricultural sector.
- PASSOP also made a general public appeal for assistance for those in this impoverished community for a number of reasons, including unemployment, low wages, and interruption of income because of a high number of dismissals, labour disputes, and resulting strike actions.
- The Department of Agriculture provided much needed humanitarian assistance that was intended to alleviate the humanitarian crisis and create an environment where level headed negotiations would be more viable between employees and employers in the agricultural sector.
-Regarding the strike action that occurred in November 2012: several DA politicians blamed intimidation as the reason many workers did not work. We are, therefore, confused that the DA publicly opposes the distribution of humanitarian aid to a community that they claim had been intimidated into not working, resulting in lost income and adding to an already dire situation in the community.
- No aid from the Department of Agriculture was given to any individual leader or organization for distribution.
- Aid from the Department of Agriculture was distributed by a contracted logistics company which enlisted the support of community-based volunteers, both unionized and non-unionized, and also included some members of immigrant communities.
- The aid was distributed to the entire community regardless of whether they had participated in the strikes or not.
- We want to clarify that it is our understanding that neither the ANC nor Minister Joemat-Pettersson called for perpetrators of violence or crime to be released but rather appealed for those arrested for participating in an unlawful gathering to be released in an effort to create an environment where negotiations between striking workers and employers would be more viable
- It is widely acknowledged that minister Joemat-Pettersson played an essential role in negotiating a suspension of the strike action in the De Doorns area after strike action had put the season’s harvest at great risk.
If there is any tangible evidence of abuse by any organization or individuals involved in voluntarily distributing aid under the watch of the logistics company, then we encourage the DA to present evidence of the abuse to the department for further investigations. We cannot rule out the possibility of abuse during the process of distribution but we believe that blaming the Minister of Agriculture is cheap politicking and allegations against the ANC are unfounded. How can the DA accuse the ANC of supporting violence after recent statements and comments condemning violence made by the chairperson of the ANC in the Western Cape, Marius Fransman?
While the strike by workers in De Doorns is non-political and the distribution of aid donated by a national government department was non-political, the DA seems determined to discredit the striking workers. We call upon the DA to stop creating controversy around the humanitarian and food security plight of farm workers.
For comment contact Mike Louw, COSATU, on 0824947935 or Braam Hanekom, PASSOP, on 0843191764
PASSOP Offices will now open on Saturdays from 0900 to 1500hrs. There will be paralegals offering advice and assistance to clients with human rights complaints and issues ranging from documentation, labour, access to education, healthcare and housing etc. affecting not only immigrants and asylum seekers but also South Africans. Our offices are at number 37 Church Street, Wynberg, Cape Town. Clients may also contact us via telephone on 021 762 0322.
PASSOP welcomes the interim court judgement in the matter of Abebe Legesse Biru and Others V Ministry of Home Affairs 1541/13. The UCT Refugee Law Clinic took an urgent application to court to stop the practice of limiting the number of extensions on an asylum permit. The Court ordered that the two clients must have their permits extended by no later than Thursday the 14th and that their files must be transferred to Cape Town to allow for their further extensions pending final relief.
Home Affairs should extend asylum permits for asylum seekers wherever they are in South Africa. At PASSOP we have recently been inundated with cases of asylum seekers who applied in Johannesburg but are now based in Cape Town. The Cape Town Refugee Reception Office was refusing to extend their documents, instructing them to go back to their office of application in Johannesburg. The time and expense of travelling between Cape Town and Johannesburg every three months to have documents extended is untenable for many people. We believe it is unreasonable for Home Affairs to refuse to extend documents for asylum seekers because they applied at another office in South Africa.
We fully support the UCT Refugee Law Clinic and the applicants in this important court case and we hope the court will give a favorable and progressive final decision on the matter. Hopefully this case and cases like it will hope motivate Home Affairs to document people who obtained their initial permit at another Refugee Reception Office.
We would like to inform the public and other relevant stakeholders that there will be a memorial service for Letsekang Thokwana, who died a few weeks ago after being shot by rubber bullets during the strike action in De Doorns. He was reportedly not part of the farmworkers strike. PASSOP expresses its deepest condolences, and unequivocally condemns all forms of violence during protests and public gatherings.
In solidarity with the deceased’s family and friends, the entire community will gather tonight for a memorial service in De Doorns. Sympathetic members of the public, media and other stakeholders are invited to show their support to the Thokwana family and the entire De Doorns community during this difficult time.
Meanwhile, FAWU and PASSOP have sponsored the event and both organisations have also contributed financially towards the repatriation of Letsekang’s body to his family in Lesotho for a dignified funeral. The details of the memorial service are as follows:
Date: 30 January 2013
Venue: Van Kirsten School, De Doorns
For more information, please contact Langton Miriyoga on 084 026 9658
In 2013, we will be advocating for better access to public transport for disabled children in Cape Town. At the moment, the trains and golden arrow buses are not accessible, or accessible in a very limited way to disabled people. The MyCiti bus is accessible to people in wheelchairs, however, it only serves the northern suburbs and downtown area. There are no routes in the Southern Suburbs or the Cape Flats. We want to begin a campaign to expand the MyCiti bus routes to include these areas. In this way, the disabled children that we work with will not have to rely solely on expensive taxis for transport but will also be able to use the MyCiti bus.
We commend FAWU for releasing the following statement:
The leadership of the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) has learned with disdain and disappointment that officials from the Home Affairs Department and the officers from the South African Police Services (SAPS) are on a concerted xenophobic which-hunt of farm workers, who are mainly nationals from Zimbabwe and Lesotho, and in the process have ‘arrested’ more than 140 in the town of Ceres and surrounding areas.
This morally repugnant campaign by Home Affairs and the Police was carried as from yesterday afternoon throughout the evening with workers taken from trucks and loaded to police vehicles and dropped off at the police stations. We are aware of an emerging alliance between farmers; labour brokers, who some masquerade as supporters of farm workers struggles; and some in government, be they police officers, home affairs officials or councilors.
The purpose of this campaign is to mete out punishment to the farm workers, especially foreign nationals, for having engaged in historically unprecedented strike action in pursuit of their demands. Foreign nationals are punished for having part of the strike and local farm workers, punished differently, for not been xenophobic. This farm workers maximum unity, and zero-xenophobia, surprised everyone, including FAWU.
Meanwhile, we reiterate our call, repeated on the 2nd February already, for the Minister of Home Affairs, Ms Naledi Pandoor, to extend or provide a special, even though temporary, dispensation to document farm workers on Western Cape farms and in the Boland in particular. We also called for foreign nationals working in the agricultural sector in general to be assisted with documentation and the practice of deporting workers to stop.
Additionally, in all sectors but particularly on farms, we demand that the notorious practice of police or immigration officials partnering with farmers by deporting undocumented workers on their pay day in particular, thereby enforcing workers to be unpaid for their labour, and any other day generally to be stopped immediately. We should hasten to add that, we call on the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, to institute a quick commission of enquiry on the role of police officers in their involvement in these so-called deportation operations and alleged bribery and other corrupt activities that goes with this.
Equally important, we still repeat once more our call on farm owners not to victimize all farm workers but allow them back to work and to give access to trade unions to organize these workers and for them, as farm owners, to dialogue with trade unions. Should government and Ministers ignore such noble calls to investigate these xenophobic and barbaric practices by some officers in the immigration agencies and police services, FAWU should not be faulted when it allow workers to mount a wave of strike actions in solidarity and support to these vulnerable workers. We will seek to have an urgent meeting with both Minister Naledi Pandoor and Nathi Mthethwa so as to deal with this expeditiously. For more information kindly contact Katishi Masemola, General Secretary, at 082 467 2509.
PASSOP condemns in the strongest possible terms the inhumane actions of several police officers from the Daveyton Police Station. Video footage has emerged of these officers dragging a man believed to be a Mozambican taxi driver named Mido Macia behind their vehicle on Tuesday afternoon, the 26th of February. The same man died hours later in police custody.
We are shocked and disgusted by these barbaric actions. Police brutality and violence of this sort have absolutely no place in our society. We urge the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to investigate this incident thoroughly and bring those responsible to justice.
Events similar to this one have become far too common in South Africa, and erode the public’s trust in the police. We demand that the IPID response to this terrible incident set an example that shows that such behaviour on the part of the police will not be tolerated. A potentially volatile situation requires a swift and transparent resolution, and justice must be served.
For further comment contact Braam Hanekom: 0843191764
PASSOP LGBTI Refugee Project has been invited to participate in a one-day seminar with the Gay and Lesbian Archives (GALA) and the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS) in Jo’burg on March 8th. The day will address major challenges facing LGBTI refugees and migrants and will look to make an agenda for future work on these issues! We are excited to participate and build collaborations to make LGBTI Refugee Issues a National Issue.
You can find more information about the seminar here: