Cape Town the right to information day access to information is a necessity for migrants and refugees in south africa

The Right to Information Day: Access to information a necessity for Migrants and Refugees in South Africa

First celebrated in 2016, the Right to Information Day is the youngest of children in a large family of siblings: older brothers and sisters include Human Rights or Woman’s Rights Day and the upcoming International Day of the Girl Child on the 5th of October 2017.

However being the youngest doesn’t imply that the day is of lesser importance. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR, 1948) article 19 already established that the right to freedom of information, and particularly the right of access to information should be provided by all member nations.

With the Access to Information Act of 2000, South Africa joined other countries in assigning official rights to receive and obtain information for South African citizens and those individuals crossing its borders. It marked an important step in history as it stepped away from a (pre-1994) “secretive and unresponsive culture that could lead to an abuse of power and human rights violations”. The government therefore recognizes that freedom of information is vital, and that a South African society cannot flourish if governments operate in secrecy.

Access to information is of critical importance to migrants and refugees in South Africa. Once they have arrived in the host country, information regarding documentation and asylum processes and other services are vital to the realization of their rights and responsibilities. Refugees and migrants often find themselves in countries where they face language barriers and whose media and communication channels are not oriented towards providing them with information.

Ultimately for a variety of reasons migrants and refugees often rely on unreliable sources, like friends and social media. The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town and other organizations provide information to refugees and migrants in South Africa as a core part of their mandates. With many sources providing unreliable information or with many individuals not being able to understand their basic rights the Centre has made a small list which you can scan for credible news:

– Home affairs website:
– Lawyers for Human Rights news:
– Legal Resources Centre news:
Or, send an email to to double check on any news you doubt.

Furthermore on Friday the 29th September the Scalabrini Women’s Platform has an Open Workshop with an Introduction to basic concepts and terms of law and South African refugee law. It was found that many of the clients coming in did not only not know how to access information but were also not aware of what their rights actually are.

There are still some spots available so for those woman who would like to attend please come in tomorrow at 10.00 AM at the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town 47 Commercial Street Capetown.

Written by Amber Ditz
UDHR article 19, PDF version

Cape Town say hello to the future leaders of south africa

Say Hello to the future leaders of South Africa!

If you type in the word ‘leadership skills’ in Google you will get an astonishing 531,000,000 results. Add the word ‘South-Africa’ and this is reduced to 47,000,000 and if you add the word ‘youth’ you will find that the results are reduced to half that number.

With a local focus, the UNITE program of the Scalabrini Centre aims to develop and improve skills in leadership and community activism and to encourage young learners to think critically about their contribution to their communities in South African Society. By empowering young potential leaders, the program enables the children to participate in national but also international dialogues, debates and written pieces that can assist them to combat socio-economic changes.

Last Friday, on the 22nd of September, the students of the UNITE program of Scalabrini, put their preparations into practice and follow in the footsteps of the many great speakers and debaters proceeding them. With a rich history of powerful speakers like Nelson Mandela or Yvonne Mokgoro (the first black female judge) the children felt inspired to put their many hours of preparation into action!

Students debated the future possibility of ‘encampment policies’ for refugees in South Africa. They enriched us with their undeniable charismatic and convincing way of speaking and unique perceptions on this current socio-political debate. The judges would like to congratulate all speakers and give a special shout-out to the winner of the Best Speaker of the Day Ivan!

If you would like to know more about the UNITE program or if you would like to contribute to the program please take a look at the UNITE Program page.

Cape Town Unaccompanied And Separated Migrant Children In Southern Africa

Unaccompanied and Separated Migrant Children in Southern Africa

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) published a report entitled ‘Study On Unaccompanied Migrant Children In Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia And Zimbabwe’ in September 2017. Click the image below for the report.


The report focuses on unaccompanied and separated migrant children (USMC), mostly placed in care, in the four SADC countries. Data analysis from surveys and interviews on USMC informs recommendations, which are made for each country involved in the study.

The South African component of the report looks at Gauteng and Limpopo and was designed, implemented and analysied by Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town.

This study acknowledges and uses the same model as the research conducted by Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town in 2015 (Foreign Children in Care in the Western Cape Province), which looked at all USMC who were placed in Child and Youth Care Centres (CYCC) in the Western Cape.

The report by IOM (the South African part written by Marilize Ackermann) analyzed surveys that were conducted with UASM placed in care across the Gauteng and Limpopo regions. The surveys in Gauteng were collected by The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town and Ms Jill Stein jointly and 26 CYCCs were visited as part of the research. In the Limpopo region, the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town conducted all surveys with USMC placed in care. Ten CYCCs participated in the Limpopo region.

Cape Town Celebrating international day of peace in a South African context

Celebrating International Day of Peace in a South African context

Today the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town celebrates the International Day of Peace – which, this year, has been dedicated to the safety and respect for refugees and migrants. We celebrate the relative peace that South Africa can offer those fleeing conflict, and encourage the government to continue providing refuge in the future to those that need it.

The United Nations decided to focus International Day of Peace 2017 on migration in order to encourage critical awareness and initiate activism on this topic, and serves as an initiative to inform individuals on the shared benefits of migration to economies and nations, while also acknowledging legitimate concerns of host communities.

Peace Day celebrates non-violence and ideologies of unanimous inclusion for all individuals from every nation. The original narrative, drafted by the UN in 1981, describes Peace Day as a day ‘devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples’. The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warns us that “in times of insecurity, communities that look different become convenient scapegoats … we must resist cynical efforts to divide communities and portray neighbors as ‘the other’. Together, let us build bridges. Together, let us transform fear into hope.”

“In 2016, Scalabrini’s clients celebrated World Refugee Day in a show of thanks, acknowledging the relative safety and peace that South Africa is able to offer asylum seekers and refugees fleeing conflict”


South-Africa is not unique in facing issues around managing migration. However the country’s historical evolution and socio-economic developments are unique in framing migrant and refugee issues and integration policies. Recent policy-developments such as the White Paper include positive aspects that recognises the benefits of migration, especially within the Southern African region. However, planned changes to the asylum system are alarming, causing restrictions to those seeking refuge in South Africa.
No doubt, there are many difficulties in facilitating an effective integration policy. Scalabrini welcomes the plans to expand visa options for certain migrants in South Africa, whilst acknowledging the challenges that the asylum system is facing. The Centre encourages the government to continue to ensure that, in the future, a fair asylum system provides refuge, peace and dignity to those that need it.

For more information on the work of the Scalabrini Centre please visit the website or visit us on Facebook. To read more information on the SA’s planned changes to migration polices, read here.

Written by Amber Ditz

Cape Town High Court Rules on South Africa Citizen Act

High Court Rules on South Africa Citizenship Act

The Western Cape High Court has taken a decision about citizenship in South Africa.
The Legal Resources Centre represented six applicants in their case, Miriam Ali vs The Minister of Home Affairs (case 15566/2016), which looked at the applicability of a clause pertaining to children born in South Africa to foreign parents.

The Citizenship Act of South Africa was amended in 2010, which came into operation on 1 January 2013. Section 4(3) of the amended Act stated that:

A child born in the Republic of parents who are not South African citizens or who have not been admitted into the Republic for permanent residence, qualifies to apply for South African citizenship upon becoming a major if-
(a) he or she has lived in the Republic from the date of his or her birth to the date of becoming a major; and
(b) his or her birth has been registered in accordance with the provisions of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1992.

The applicants represented in Legal Resource Centre’s case were born in South Africa and had reached eighteen years after 1st January 2013.
However, when they approached the Department of Home Affairs to apply for South African citizenship, they were informed that this section of the Citizenship Act does not apply retrospectively – meaning that only those who are born in South Africa and turn eighteen in 2031 would be able to apply for South African citizenship.

The matter was heard by Acting Judge Willie in the Western Cape High Court on 24 August 2017.
The judgement, released today, orders that Home Affairs declare that Section
4(3) of the citizenship act is applicable to persons who meet the requirements ‘irrespective of whether they were born before or after 1 January 2013’, and requests that Home Affairs develop regulations to the Citizenship Act within a year, and accept applications.
Judge Willie found that the prejudice to the applicants who cannot apply for citizenship involves ‘not only practical implications but also fundamental constitutional entitlements.’

Read the judgement here.

Cape Town ACP Applicants who need new VFS appointment

ACP applicants who need new VFS appointment

This information is only for those ACP clients who did NOT go to their VFS appointment.

If your question is not answered below, please email us on

I have not been to a VFS appointment. What do I do?

VFS will SMS you to make you a new VFS appointment. If, after 16 November 2017, you still have not received an SMS regarding VFS, please contact Scalabrini urgently on 021 465 6433 or email

How do I fill out the online form?
VFS have made a special section of their website (click here) for ACP applicants. On this site, you will see that there is a form and a checklist to fill out.
Print both these documents. Fill out the application form and bring this with you to the VFS appointment.
Use the checklist to make sure that you have all the required documents with you.

What do I need to bring to the VFS appointment?
The VFS checklist also lists what is needed at your VFS appointment.

1. The completed VFS form.

2. Your original Angolan passport with the original ACP permit inside.

3. A photocopy of the photo-page of your Angolan passport and a photocopy of your ACP permit.

4. Employment/study documents:
– If you are employed: you must bring a sworn affidavit from your employer confirming your employment. This should be a letter that is signed, recently dated and containing the company contact details. This letter must be certified true by a Commissioner of Oaths (this can be signed at a police station, bank, post office). Alternatively, you can hand in a contract of employment, so long as it is valid.
– If you are self-employed: you must bring your business registration with CPIC, or SARS registration of business. If you do not have these, you must bring a completed affidavit, please click here to download this affidavit.
– If you are studying: you must bring an updated, current letter from your school, university or college confirming that you are currently studying.
– If you are retired: you must bring proof of retirement or proof of income that is earned as a retired person, or an affidavit that states how you support yourself as a retired person.
– If you are not studying or working: you must bring a completed affidavit, explaining your situation and why you are not working, and how you intend to support yourself.

5. Your Scalabrini yellow receipt. This receipt was given to you when you made application to residency. It has a case number in the top right hand corner.

6. If your police clearance certificate arrived late (after your permanent residency application was given to Home Affairs on 15 February 2015), you must bring your police clearance certificate to your VFS appointment. If you handed in your police clearance certificate with your permanent residency application, you do not need to bring a police clearance certificate.

7. If you have applied for a new Angolan passport (if your former Angolan passport is near expiry, expired or lost), you must also bring your new Angolan passport or proof of application to a new Angolan passport.

Please remember, if you do not hand in these documents, your residency permit might not be issued. It is very important that you bring all these documents to the VFS appointment.

Where will the VFS appointment take place?
If you live in Cape Town: when VFS SMSes you, you will be given a time and date to come to Scalabrini. The VFS company will set up an office at Scalabrini Hall.
If you live in Johannesburg, Durban or Pretoria: when VFS SMSes you, you will be given an appointment to go to the VFS office in that city.

My police clearance certificate arrived after my residency application was handed in to Home Affairs. What must I do?
If your police clearance certificate arrived after the application was given to Home Affairs on 15 February 2017, you must make an appointment with VFS (as explained above) and you must bring your police clearance certificate to the VFS appointment with you.

I have a criminal record. What do I do?
VFS will SMS you to make an appointment with them. You must still accept an appointment with VFS, as explained above. Once you have been to the VFS appointment, Home Affairs will consider your application taking into account the specific facts of your situation. VFS will call you or send you an sms once Home Affairs has made a decision on your application.

I have a new Angolan passport. What do I do?
When you go to the VFS appointment, you must bring the Angolan passport that has the ACP permit inside, and photocopies of the photo page and the ACP permit. You must also bring your new Angolan passport.

I have lost my passport. What do I do?
When you go to the VFS appointment, you must bring a copy of the Angolan passport that had the ACP permit inside. You must also bring a copy of the ACP permit itself. You must also bring your new Angolan passport, or proof of application for the new passport.

I have a new cell phone number. What must I do?
Please give the new cell number to reception at Scalabrini by calling 021 465 6433.

These permits will expire in four years from date of issue. What will happen then?
These applications to permanent residency were ‘exemption’ applications. Under this section of the immigration law, the Minister of Home Affairs has a right to grant the rights of permanent residency for any time period. In this case she decided to grant the rights of permanent residency a period of four years.
If you are issued this residency permit, you can make applications to another type of visa if you wish (for example, a spousal visa or a work visa, among others). A year before expiry, you could apply for another exemption or consider the other visa options that may be made available to you at that time.