The Constitutional Court has agreed to hear a cry for help from jailed Ethiopian human rights activist Beneyam Deselegn Ashebo, who is detained at Kgosi Mampuru Prison in Pretoria because he is in SA illegally.

The Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) had refused to hear his case over technical reasons, and he has now petitioned the Constitutional Court, which has agreed to hear it.

The Star reports Ashebo fled Ethiopia in May 2021, after being persecuted for his religious beliefs. He entered SA illegally in June 2021. Upon his arrival, Ashebo was advised to approach the Refugee Centre in Pretoria to apply for an asylum seeker permit.

He made several attempts to approach the centre, but was turned away on each occasion.

Ashebo then launched a High Courty application in an attempt to direct the Department of Home Affairs to accept his application for asylum. However, he lacked funds to continue with the litigation.

He was later arrested for illegally entering the Republic.

His attorneys launched an urgent application in the High Court, interdicting his deportation. They called for his release and declared his continuing detention unlawful. The case was heard on 30 August 2022 and the court was directed to authorities from the Constitutional Court showing Ashebo was entitled to have his case heard.

The High Court disregarded the case authorities and ruled that his case was not urgent. It ordered him to pay legal costs for Home Affairs, even though the case involved Ashebo’s right to liberty since he was in jail.

Ashebo immediately filed an urgent application to the ConCourt asking for his release and declaring his continued detention unlawful.

The case will be heard on Thursday.

Full report in The Star

All the court papers