Methodist Church refugees find new homes

2014-12-29 16:32

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The refugees about to be evicted from the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg are finding their own accommodation, Bishop Paul Verryn has said.

Verryn said he had been involved in the inner city for many years to ensure the Constitution protected people, including against eviction without alternative accommodation being provided.

“The church took a decision at one of its meetings that when I leave, the people in this building must also vacate this building,” he said.

He would not comment on the Sunday Times’ report that the refugees were being kicked out for running up a R2 million electricity bill. Verryn’s term as superintendent at the church was coming to an end this month.

According to the New Age he told the church he was not afraid to approach the court after the church said it would evict more than 400 people by the end of December.

“I don’t think we are going to get to that place. I have a feeling that people want to co-operate and find a dignified way to deal with this matter,” Verryn told Sapa.

“Poor people are not disposable units ... One of the good things that came from this was the media that helped to enable people to understand that there is a greater humanity that we are dealing with in this matter.”

He said people were slowly beginning to move and many managed to get their own accommodation after the church, next to the high court in the CBD, decided it would close its doors to refugees by the end of December.

Verryn said many people were finding accommodation in Soweto. He had meetings with leaders from the Lutheran church and counsellors from Soweto to find alternative accommodation.

On Christmas eve, the number of people who needed accommodation was 468.

Verryn said he had lived in Soweto for 27 years and would continue working there and the Central Methodist Church would continue its worship sessions as usual.

The church has been a home for refugees since the xenophobic attacks in the country in 2008.

Presiding Bishop Reverend Ziphozihle Siwa was not immediately available for comment.

The refugees had reportedly said they would fight the process as they had nowhere to go and were unemployed.

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