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01 Dec 2009 09:59
How can you practically empower yourself, or the women and children you know, during this year’s 16 days of Activism? The Mail & Guardian‘s “HOW TO” guide will tackle a different area each day, including suing for maintenance, applying for a social grant and getting an interdict against an abusive partner.
Under the Constitution refugees and asylum seekers, particularly children, are afforded the same rights and protection available to citizens.
The first step
As soon as possible after arriving in South Africa potential refugees must register for an “Application for Asylum” at one of the Refugee Reception Offices located in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg.
After this process, applicants are provided with a Section 22 Permit or “Asylum Seeker Permit”, which proves that they are legally in the country. If an application is successful, this will be upgraded to a Section 24 permit, which can be used to apply for various forms of social assistance.
The Constitution guarantees that everyone has the right to basic education (“basic” meaning until age 15 or Grade 9). This includes Asylum Seekers and Refugees.
To register your child for education you will need:
Payment of school fees, registration fees, deposits on school fees, taking of aptitude tests and uniforms are not conditions for registration at South African state schools. If you are struggling to pay school fees then you can apply for exemption, by obtaining the forms from the school’s offices.
Every person in South Africa has the right to access healthcare and no documents are required to see a health worker or to receive emergency treatment at a state hospital or clinic. Not all health workers know about this important right so if you face problems you must ask to see the manager of the clinic or hospital. The Department of Health has issued an important circular to clinics and hospitals instructing them to treat foreign nationals. This includes providing them with access to HIV and Aids treatment.
As a recognised refugee with a Section 24 permit one can apply for a few grants at any South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) office. Contact Sassa for more information. Obtaining the various grants follow similar processes, one of which is outlined below.
To qualify, you must:
The doctor will complete a medical report and will forward the report to Sassa.
Even before the you have received a Section 22 or 24 permit relating to your asylum application or refugee status, you have labour rights in South Africa. Any employment contract or relationship you enter will be legally recognised.
The basic conditions of employment apply and you should be paid a minimum wage. It is not a valid reason for your employer to fire you because your permit papers have expired.
South African labour regulations do, however, place a number of restrictions on foreign nationals, including the need to advertise widely for the position before hiring a foreign national in some occupations. In other occupations, there is a need to register with the particular practitioners’ council before one can obtain work in that profession and so this endorsed visitor’s permit is not well-suited for skilled labour as it is only a short-term permit.
Read the daily “HOW TO” guides so far here
View more on our special report on 16 days of activism here..
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