Refugees Face Bribe Demands in South Africa, Rights Groups Say

Refugees seeking asylum in South Africa are routinely asked for bribes at reception centers and border posts, two human rights groups said.

Almost 30 percent of the 928 asylum seekers surveyed while they were in or waiting to enter South African refugee reception offices experienced instances of corruption, Lawyers for Human Rights and the African Centre for Migration and Society said in a report. Public Protector Thuli Madonsela should probe the issue, they said Wednesday.

“The migration management system has shifted from one of protection to one of profit-making,” Loren Landau, the African Centre’s research chairman, said at the release of the report in Johannesburg. “The public service system is no longer geared for providing protection for those who need it the most but rather for those who can afford it the most.”

South Africa’s home affairs department said it’s aware of the problem.

“The Department of Home Affairs is currently working on not just identifying and investigating the corruption but also on resolving it and the cause,” spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete said by phone.

The asylum seekers said that bribes requested ranged from 100 rand ($8) to 2,500 rand, according to the report.

Foreign migrants have also faced violence from South Africans who see them as competitors for jobs and business opportunities in a country with 26 percent unemployment.

President Jacob Zuma deployed the army to halt attacks on African migrants by mobs wielding machetes and sticks around Johannesburg and Durban in March and April after the worst anti-immigrant attacks since 2008 left seven people dead.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE