SOUTH Africa receives more asylum seekers than any other country in the world, according to a joint report released yesterday by the Solidarity Peace Trust (SPT) and People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (Passop).
Most of the people seeking refuge in South Africa from political turmoil, poverty and insecurity came from Zimbabwe, the DRC, Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Somalia, it said.
The report, entitled "Perils and Pitfalls – Migrants and Deportation in South Africa”, focused heavily on Zimbabwean immigrants, as 15% of Zimbabwe’s population are "asylum seekers” and "refugees” in South Africa.
However, while the South African constitution explicitly protected the rights of people who fled persecution, more than 7000 Zimbabweans had been deported this year alone, the report said.
Between 2003 and 2008, the South African Home Affairs Department deported more than 1.4 million people.
Studies by Lawyers for Human Rights and the Forced Migration Studies Programme at the University of Witwatersrand found various human rights abuses in the detention and identification process, including officials accepting bribes, racial profiling, failure to give reason for arrest, failure to verify documentation, abuse of power, and corruption.
In 2009, research by Wits University showed it cost the Gauteng provincial government more than R362-million annually to detect, detain and transfer migrants.
The report offered 13 recommendations to humanely address the number of asylum seekers in South Africa.