IN A hard-hitting judgment highlighting corruption at the Home Affairs refugee office in Port Elizabeth, the Grahamstown High Court has refused to stop the deportation of an Indian businessman who was in possession of a fake asylum seeker’s permit.
Despite the South African Human Rights Commission investigating allegations of human rights abuses at Lindela repatriation centre in Gauteng, where Grahamstown businessman Sony Rajan Deep Singh is being held, the court ruled that the conditions of detention were not reason enough to release him.
Judge John Smith said in his judgment that Singh was in the country on fake papers and had entered into a “marriage of convenience” in an effort to stay here.
According to court papers Singh said he was assisted at the Port Elizabeth refugee office by an “Indian interpreter” who appeared to have free access to officials. After the interpreter had spoken to a number of the officials, he returned with the permit.
Singh was arrested in Grahamstown on May 3 and later moved to Lindela.
Advocate Ashley Moorhouse asked the court to order that Singh’s arrest and detention be declared invalid and that he should be released.
Singh claimed that he came to South Africa seeking asylum in 2009, but that his application had not been finalised.
But Home Affairs officials told the court that his application was refused for being “manifestly unfounded” and that he had applied for the decision to be reviewed.
Singh claimed he was “married” to a South African woman, but his application for temporary residency on the grounds of his marriage was refused by Home Affairs last month.
Department official Singatwa Mtiya said when she arrested Singh he had produced a copy of a marriage register, which is used only by officials. He could not explain why he had the whole register and not just a certificate.
He later produced a marriage certificate.
He also had a document looking like an asylum seeker’s permit valid until May 2. But the department said it had no record of this being issued, and it was therefore a forgery.
Smith said in his judgment that he accepted the department’s conclusion.