Local refugees given a ‘safe haven’

2015-05-06 06:00

HIS Worship the Mayor Thami Ngubane would like to state categorically that “this type of lawlessness will not be tolerated in Umvoti Municipality and all steps necessary will be taken to ensure the safety of the town, its citizens and its visitors”.

The mayor said this after 70 foreign nationals had sought refuge from xenophobia in Grey- town.

Last Thursday, following an appeal from the SAPS and Department of Social Development, Umvoti Municipality personnel swung into action to provide a safe haven for the men, women and children living in Greytown, who had received xenophobic threats.

As the word spread throughout the town that the refugees had been given protection in the town hall the response from the community was overwhelming. Food, blankets, water, toys and meals arrived in a continuous stream from individuals, churches, supermarkets and NGOs. This, with the backing of the police, the mayor, councillors, municipal staff, Protection Services and more, led the refugees to express their appreciation of this support, the mobilisation of the town’s leadership, the proactive work of the Protection Services, the SAPS, municipality staff and the Greytown community.

An urgent meeting was called by the mayor with relevant stakeholders to discuss this issue. Various sites were mooted as possible safe havens to accommodate families once they were to move out of the town hall. After deliberations it was agreed that the foreign nationals would be housed at a place of safety until further notice. They were moved from the town hall on Friday to a new place of safety, when on Monday about 45 were still being safely sheltered­.

The community once again showed its generosity and compassion through an overwhelming response to the plight of the refugees.

Greytown SAPS spokesman told the Greytown Gazette that the police had the situation under control and were carrying out regular patrols as well as monitoring the safe haven. It appears the unrest has been as a result of threats made by a small group of individuals - this included written threats. There has been no reports of xenophobic attacks and violence. The police were confident the threats had been made by a limited number of opportunists.

On Monday afternoon a meeting, called by the mayor to discuss the situation with municipal and government departments involved, decided the refugees would be taken care of as long as required.

A inter-denominational prayer service is planned for 27 April

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