SOUTH AFRICA: A Zimbabwean national who has been in a Pretoria jail with 16 compatriots for being illegally in the country told the court the Home Affairs ministry was refusing their applications for asylum status.
Godknows Ndlovu said the refusal was simply because they were Zimbabweans.
He and his friends have been locked up under appalling conditions since August 8. He feared being raped and attacked in prison, and said a fellow inmate calls him “a lady from Zimbabwe”.
Ndlovu turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, on an extremely urgent basis asking that he and his friends be released immediately.
He said they want to apply for asylum status, but Home Affairs would not allow them on the basis of their nationality.
He and his friends, who have a similar tale to tell, went to the Desmond Tutu Refugees Reception Centre to apply for asylum status to legalise their stay here.
But he said an official told them the department was no longer issuing asylum permits to Zimbabweans. He said he saw other Zimbabweans also at the centre to apply for asylum status permits being arrested.
“I narrowly escaped being arrested on that day and all my hopes to get my permit were dashed.”
Ndlovu said one of the people, a friend of his, was simply “dumped” at the Zimbabwean border by immigration officials and told to go home.
“He phoned me desperately asking for transport money to come back.”
A few days later Ndlovu and some of his other friends were arrested by the police in Hammanskraal for being illegally in the country.
They were taken to prison in Pretoria, where they are either awaiting trial for being illegally in the country or waiting to be deported.
Ndlovu demanded that the court order their immediate release.
He said they were locked up with hardened criminals, who do not take kindly to the fact that they are from Zimbabwe.
They have been robbed and assaulted and he is terrified he will be raped. He told the court all he and his friends want is to be allowed to apply for asylum status.
Ndlovu brought the matter so urgently before the court, that Home Affairs and other arms of government could not respond. The court, however, did not entertain the application and removed it from the roll.