Scalabrini releases new documentary on the future of South Africa’s refugees

Scalabrini has released a new documentary, Sanctuary Lost, which explores the history and future for South Africa’s refugees.

Watch the full film by clicking here.

Watch the trailer version by clicking here.

Download our Sanctuary Lost press release here.

What is Sanctuary Lost about?

Over time, South Africa’s progressive refugee system has descended into a state of crisis. In response, the government now plans to construct detention camps on its northern borders, and a main tenet of the South African constitution – freedom of movement – is set to be compromised. Sanctuary Lost, an unprecedented documentary, combines expert, academic and refugee voices to track the rise and collapse of South Africa’s unique refugee landscape.

In the oppressive context of apartheid, few refugees sought asylum in South Africa. Through archive footage and exclusive interviews, Sanctuary Lost traces the history behind the 1998 Refugees Act, which transformed South Africa from a refugee-producing to a refugee-receiving country. Fast-forward to 2018, and South Africa’s refugee system has descended into a state of crisis. Sanctuary Lost explores the human impact of the imploding system, where huge numbers of asylum applicants, corruption and limited capacity have resulted in asylum seekers being stuck in administrative limbo for up to fifteen years. The government’s closure of several Refugee Reception Offices – and refusal to reopen them – has added more pressure to the struggling system. In what are described as ‘the camps of the future’, the South African government has responded by planning to construct ‘asylum processing centres’. In a series of plans that are reminiscent of Australia’s asylum system (and South Africa’s history of restricted human movement) asylum applicants will not have the right to work and face detention in uncertain circumstances. Only those granted refugee status will be ‘released’ into South African society. It is not clear how these centres will be run, or who will fund them.

Sanctuary Lost seeks to raise awareness around the complex history – and worrying future – of South Africa’s refugee system. Whilst the asylum system is under immense pressure, there are a variety of solutions to relieve this and allow for the Refugees Act to be properly implemented. Constructing refugee camps is not only unnecessary; it is a costly, inhumane way to process South Africa’s refugees.

Want to know more?

For more information, please contact Lotte Manicom – – or call +27 (0)21 465 6433.

When do you feel most integrated/ ‘at home’ in the city?

When I feel most at home is when I am taking my morning hikes, when I go up the mountain. The one I like the most is Lion’s Head because it is the easiest. When you are climbing you can take your time to appreciate nature and the indigenous nature – I feel most at home because I am in touch with mother nature.

When do you feel least integrated in the city?

Actually, I don’t. Wherever I am, I am good at adapting.

What kind of work do you do?

I am in the final year of a four-year chef internship here at Mount Nelson Hotel. I would like, in the future, to work in other places like Johannesburg, cruise ships, even France. That is my dream.

Do you feel like you are contributing to Cape Town in any way? If so, how?

Right now, no – but I think I have served a substantial amount of hours to community work in the past. I used to volunteer in old age homes. This is where I found my passion and drive for cooking – I would go after church on a Sunday and I used to cook for them or wash their dishes.

Have you ever gone back to Angola?

No. Not in nineteen years. I would like to go and give back.

What do you wish other Capetonians knew about you?

I want people to know that I have a vision. That I have a fast metabolism for growth.

I want them to know that I want to stimulate the mind-set of people that are willing to join the movement — the movement to take the city forward to its highest point. I know I am young, but only God can judge me. I just imagine all of us united and eating for the same table. I know it sounds crazy but I think it is possible.