Cases of 22 Afghan asylum seekers locked in dispute in South Africa

Cases of 22 Afghans who are seeking asylum in South Africa has become a heated dispute between the country’s government and a US-based NGO which has won a High Court’s ruling on behalf of the Afghan asylum seekers.

Officials of South Africa has accused the US NGO of trying to sabotage the country’s sovereignty.

Citing Aaron Motsoaledi, Home Affairs Minister of South Africa, the Independent Online – a news website in South Africa – reported him as saying that a US-based NGO was undermining the country’s sovereignty and wanted to “impose Afghan nationals” on the African nation.

These Afghans have reportedly got tourist visas from Zimbabwe and Zambia. They arrived in Beitbridge border town of Zimbabwe on 14 February, where they asked South Africa’s border officials to let them enter the country as asylum seekers but the border authorities refused.

The US-based NGO, whose name has yet to be revealed,later took the South African government to a high court. And on February 24, Pretoria high court ordered the home affairs department to grant asylum to the 22 Afghanistan nationals.

The court has reserved its judgement after South Africa’s Ministry of Home Affairs opposed granting asylum to the Afghan nationals and filed an urgent application.

“The NGO wants the court to force us to accept them. No!” said Clayson Manyela, Head of Public Diplomacy at South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation, in a tweet on February 21.

Manyela added that Zambia and the United States could be options for these Afghans to seek asylum, instead of South Africa.

The Taliban’s return to power in August 2021 and withdrawal of US-led NATO forces from Afghanistan forced hundreds of thousands of Afghans to seek asylum for a safe life in different countries across the world, including in some African countries.