Advocacy is one of the core programmes of ARESTA since its work directly impacts the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.


The department has four main areas, which are

1.Refugee legal assistance

2.Policy reform

3.Refugee rights awareness

4.Health interpretation


As well as three forms of assistance to increase the access to a better livelihood, which are

1.Vocational Skills Training

2.SAQA Evaluation

3.Translation of documents




The department provides basic legal assistance to refugees and asylum seekers. This assistance comes in the form of

◾drafting appeals against rejections of asylum applications

◾facilitating the renewal of expired permits

◾facilitating the lodgement of new applications at designated offices

◾rendering legal advice and referral to partner organisations in the event of court cases.


The office does not handle any court cases and neither does it do court appearances.




This is done mainly through the Portfolio Committee of Home Affairs, at parliament. The department has a close relationship with the Committee and attends their sittings. Every quarter, the department prepares and submits articles to the Committee motivating the formulation of favourable policies, and identifying areas of improvement in the current laws. The department also tracks and monitors the developments in the Committee, and their deliberations relating to the amendments of the current legislation which directly impacts the lives of refugees and asylum seekers. In its policy reform, the department also has a strong working relationship with departments such as Home Affairs, which it uses to enhance and improve the service rendered to clients, and as a platform to clarify gaps in the issuing and renewal of permits.




The department uses this approach to increase the level of awareness on the plights, rights and obligations of refugees. It does so by conducting workshops with the refugee communities themselves, the South African communities, and various government departments. In 2015, ARESTA initiated a series of workshops with members of the South African Police, as they implement the provisions of both the Refugees Act and Immigrations Act by arresting those with expired documents and those without documentation at all. ARESTA also initiated a TV show on Cape Town television on the plights of refugees and asylum seekers, which is yet to be screened.




ARESTA employs four competent health interpreters who are stationed at four health facilities within the Cape Metropolitan. There are two interpreters who speak French, Lingala and Swahili working at Goodwood and Maitland clinic respectively, and two Somalian Interpreters, one at Mitchells Plain and the other at Kasselsvlei. The interpreters

◾ensure that refugees and asylum seekers receive health care at health institutions

◾facilitate the communication between refugees/asylum seekers and health officials

◾are responsible for identifying policies and health practices which are unfavourable to the plights of refugees and asylum seekers.


Over and above, the department further conducts workshops with health officials on the rights and obligations of refugees and asylum seekers. The department also works with refugee communities, and has support groups for victims of sexual and gender based violence, and runs health awareness workshops as well.




ARESTA assists refugees and asylum seekers in having their foreign qualifications evaluated by SAQA. Documents are submitted on behalf of clients to SAQA on a monthly basis, and the service is paid for by ARESTA.




To those whose qualifications are not in English, ARESTA also assists in the translation of documents into the English language. It is important to note, however, that the translation of documents is limited to two documents per applicant and that applicants can only benefit from the translation service once per year. The documents must enhance the chances of a better livelihood for the applicant, and in this regard ARESTA reserves the right to apply its discretion.




Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri: 09:00-13:00

Tues: closed


The department is open to meeting and assisting clients in any of the above areas.


Clients must bring all necessary documentation with them when they do come to consult with the department.

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