Lawyers challenge SA law denying asylum seekers access to dialysis

After the Johannesburg High Court ruled that a Johannesburg hospital can terminate lifesaving dialysis that an asylum seeker Ethiopian Alem Ereselo desperately needs, Lawyers for Human Rights are challenging the constitutionality of the country’s public health policy.

The current public health policy denies non-South Africans treatment at South African public hospitals.

Bongani Bingwa chats to the organisation’s attorney Jessica Lawrence representing Ereselo.

“We are representing Ereselo is an asylum seeker who fled her country due to fear for her life, she is in South Africa seeking refuge and has been here for just under a decade while she has been waiting for Department of Home Affairs to make a determination on her application for refugee status.” — Jessica Lawrence, Attorney – Lawyers for Human Rights

Ereselo fell ill at the beginning of the year, approached the hospital and was placed on dialysis and that hospital notified her that her dialysis would be terminated because she was not a South African citizen, Lawrence explains.

“Most recently a court has sanctioned the hospital decision to terminate her treatment. It is important to understand that asylum seeker cannot return to their home countries because they are here on humanitarian grounds and cannot return as they fear for their lives.” — Jessica Lawrence, Attorney – Lawyers for Human Rights

She says asylum seekers cannot lawfully travel out of South Africa or any other country to access treatment.

“At this stage, all the public facilities she has approached have denied her treatment and therefore she has not been on dialysis for two weeks now.” — Jessica Lawrence, Attorney – Lawyers for Human Rights

702, 8 November 2019 (