Hospital reports foreign patients to Home Affairs 

Source: Hospital reports foreign patients to Home Affairs | News24

The Robertson hospital in the Western Cape confiscated the passport of a 25-year-old Zimbabwean woman on May 19, after she went there to seek treatment.

Chiedza* said that on the first day she sought treatment she was handed her hospital file without any questions, GroundUp reports.

When she returned for a follow-up, she was asked to show her ID.

The receptionist then told her that because her passport visa had expired she wasn’t going to get her file. Instead the hospital would keep her passport for seven days while it contacted Home Affairs.

On May 22, the hospital rang Chiedza asking that she collect her passport.

She went to the hospital the following day and was told to wait until her name was called. A few minutes later she saw Home Affairs officials arriving and was introduced to them.

Two weeks to buy bus ticket

The Home Affairs officials asked her to fill in a couple of forms and then informed her that she had two weeks to seek money to buy a bus ticket to Zimbabwe.

They kept her passport and gave her one of the forms instead. They explained that once she had bought the bus ticket, she could collect her passport from the hospital and then leave the country.

She picks lemons and naartjies on a Robertson farm. Buying a ticket back to Zimbabwe is not easy for her: she earns about R600 per week.

Chiedza said that the officials had a stack of about 20 passports including hers.

She claimed it was common for Robertson hospital to confiscate passports of immigrants mainly from Zimbabwe and Lesotho.

Sandra Maritz, spokesperson for the health department’s Cape Winelands District, said that Section 44 of the Immigration Act compels the department to determine if a person receiving services is a citizen of the country and to report cases where their status is unclear, or illegal, to the director-general.

But an attorney for the Legal Resources Centre, Elgene Roos, said that Section 44 provides for verification of a person’s status, “where possible”. This suggests that it is not necessary to verify the status or citizenship of someone to render a service.

*Her identity cannot be revealed as she is still in the country illegally.


  • comment-avatar

    The downside is that sick illegals may shun hospitals and spread diseases. There are probably better ways to enforce immigration rather than hospitals taking on this role. By confiscating a passport, what if the illegal was already on the way back to where they came from then they fail to exit lengthening the illegal stay? What if they were on their way to some far off place, what happens in between? Home affairs have the means to detain and house illegals if they deem it fit, hospitals have no such facilities neither are they resourced to keep patient passports. What happens during the 7 day she is without a passport? This all seems extreme deprivation of essential document that the hospital has neither right nor title to. They are obligated to report to immigration, but certainly do not have a right to hold onto such a key document from a foreigner like this. Whats their real objective in sending someone away without the only document that can identify them in a foreign land?