Government gets rules for treatment of suspected illegal foreigners

29 June 2017 - 17:10
By Timeslive
The Constitutional Court in Johannesburg. File photo.
Image: NICOLENE OLCKERS/GALLO IMAGES The Constitutional Court in Johannesburg. File photo.

The Legal Resources Centre has welcomed a Constitutional Court judgment handed down on Thursday‚ which held that the detention of alleged or suspected illegal foreigners without prompt judicial intervention was unconstitutional.

The LRC represented the People Against Poverty‚ Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) as a friend of the court.

The case involved the procedures and safeguards governing the detention of people suspected of being illegal foreigners under the Immigration Act. The High Court had declared sections 34(1)(b) and (d) of the Act constitutionally invalid. The Constitutional Court upheld the declarations of constitutional invalidity.

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) had challenged these sections because the Act does not require that a detained person be automatically brought before a court within 48 hours in order for the court to confirm the lawfulness of their detention‚ which is the case for other detained people.

The LHR also argued that while the Act envisages a warrant being obtained from a Magistrates’ Court for the continued detention of the suspected illegal foreigner‚ the Department of Home Affairs interpreted this in a way that meant that the detained person did not have to appear in person before the Magistrate concerned.

PASSOP supported LHR’s arguments challenging these sections of the Act.

"We are pleased that the court embraced the constitutional considerations. We welcome the judgment as a vindication of constitutional principles and human rights for everyone in South Africa‚ including foreigners‚ whose dignity and liberty must be respected by the state‚" the LRC said.