Displaced foreigners camp at Durban City Hall demanding help

2008-07-11 00:00

A group of Congolese displaced people have been left homeless after they were evicted from a local street shelter and have now sought refuge at the Durban City Hall.

Four people, including a heavily pregnant woman, were attacked and beaten up by a security guard.

The group were evicted from the shelter in Broad Street after the city stopped paying for their accommodation.

Some foreigners moved to the city hall, where they demanded a proper campsite and food, while others went to the old SPCA building in Cato Manor. However, contract workers demolishing the building threatened them with hammers and other weapons.

Durban Action against Xenophobia spokeswoman Alice Thomson said that on June 4, several local churches met with representatives of the provincial government, who promised they would set up a campsite and assist with food and proper healthcare. There were several generous donations of food and clothing, but the camp never materialised. “All the hard work was left to the churches and non-governmental organisations. The people had no place to sleep and this was a huge problem for us,” she said.

Thomson said that on June 25, 156 people were told to leave a church in which they were staying. They camped at the city hall until the municipality arranged for them to live at the Broad Street shelter.

A spokesman for the displaced people, Hulubatu Akyamba, said city officials told them to stay at the shelter until a site was found.

“Then we were told that the disaster management team could not help us. They said that we had to find our own accommodation, but we don’t have any money,” he said.

He said that many have considered returning to their local communities, but are terrified of being attacked. Attempts by displaced people to open cases against their attackers have failed on several occasions. “Xenophobia is still alive. The violence against us has not stopped, but the authorities fail to see that. Even the police refuse to help us,” he said.

Pierre Matate of the Durban Refugee Council said: “These refugees should be handed over to government who has the capacity to deal with them. This is a serious matter and should be resolved immediately.”

He said there is a lot of denial of the problem by the municipality and shifting of responsibility to various departments.

The displaced people want government to set up a camp according to international standards or, failing that, to invite the UN to set up such a camp as an interim measure before people can be safely re-integrated or settled in another country.

They also want intensified efforts of social workers from the Provincial Department of Social Development towards preparing South African communities for the reintegration of refugees.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.