The Constitutional Court’s interpretation of the Refugees Act has serious implications for all asylum seekers who do not present themselves at refugee reception offices on entering SA, according to Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR). Business Day says LHR attorneys argued in the Constitutional Court yesterday that a Rwandan asylum seeker – who was allegedly sent to SA to eliminate exiled opponents of the country’s President – should have his asylum application considered.

Alex Ruta came to SA without the necessary permits in December 2014. After discovering his mission to SA was to assassinate members of the Rwandan opposition, Ruta claims he informed the Hawks, who took him into protective custody.

However, it was not until he was arrested in March 2016 for driving an unlicensed motorcycle was it discovered he had a fraudulent asylum seeker permit.

Home Affairs arranged for his repatriation to Rwanda. Ruta then applied for an urgent interdict against the department at the High Court allowing him to apply for asylum. He succeeded.

However, the SCA upheld an application by the department to have the decision reversed.

Home Affairs has argued that section 4 (1) of the Refugees Act – which deals with the offences committed by potential asylum seekers – was applicable to crimes committed inside SA as well.

Ruta’s attorneys interpreted the section to refer ‘to crimes committed in outside countries’.

The Rwandan national’s case also deserved a hearing because he faced possible persecution upon his return to Rwanda, according to the LHR lawyer Faith Munyati.

The report notes judgment has been reserved.

Full Business Day report