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By Lunga Simelane

Journalist


‘We don’t even know them’ – Motsoaledi questions objectives of Afghans seeking asylum

Motsoaledi says it is suspicious that the Afghans seeking asylum chose South Africa out of all these countries.


Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi believes moves to force South Africa to accept 22 Afghan asylum seekers pose a threat to national security because the country is being dragged into the bitter United States-Afghanistan war.

The 22 Afghans, alleged to comprise eight adults and 14 children, were refused entry into South Africa on 16 February at Beitbridge.

It was understood an immigration officer refused them entry because they had been issued with multiple entry tourist visas by Zimbabwe on 20 January.

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However the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday confirmed they must be allowed to stay in South Africa and to apply for asylum transit visas.

The men, who are alleged to be marked for persecution for assisting the American government when it was in control in Afghanistan, escaped from their country of birth last year.

They fled to Pakistan before settling in Zimbabwe.

Why South Africa?

Motsoaledi said South Africa had never been part of the conflict between the US and Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban.

“When they [the US] pulled out, they themselves said they would protect the people who worked with them. They would take them to America and give them asylum,” he said.

“We learnt later that the NGO [nongovernmental organisation] applied for them to get into America and the Americans refused,” he said.

WATCH: Giving Afghan nationals asylum in SA could pose a risk – Motsoaledi

“These are their friends who are fighting with them. Why are they rejecting their entry? And then South Africa must allow them entry? What does that mean? Who are these people? Why are they rejected even by the people who have been with them for 20 years? And worse, we don’t even know them.

“It surprises me. It is not a normal way for looking for asylum… I can’t say anybody’s plotting against us, but the question is, why us?”

Motsoaledi said representatives had claimed they studied the laws of all the countries and concluded that it was South Africa’s law which could allow them in. He said it was suspicious and it seemed SA was being targeted.

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“We have been attacked for not having security at our borders. We have now established the border management and my address to them all the time is to be on the lookout,” he said.

Govt ‘wrong’ for refusing Afghans help

The group’s representative from Schindlers Attorneys lead attorney David Loxton said the government was incorrect to deny them entry.

“That is an important point because the law does not say they must be allowed in and be given asylum but they must be allowed in to seek asylum,” he said.

“We really just want the government to assist us here in helping them.”

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Afghanistan Dr Aaron Motsoaledi Taliban