Refugee matter still ongoing

2020-01-28 06:00

Efforts continue to find a resolution to the ongoing refugee matter currently taking place in the central business district (CBD).

The City of Cape Town says they understand and share the growing concern and frustration around the refugee occupation of the Methodist church and the surrounding areas.

“It must be noted that we are doing everything possible to resolve what is a complex legal issue.

“We are engaging with various stakeholders on a daily basis in order to find a solution to the matter.

To recap, the refugees were offered sanctuary in the Central Methodist Church following an eviction to end the illegal occupation of the area outside the Waldorf Building in St George’s Mall in October 2019,” says the City in a statement.

“Since then, there has been a split in allegiances, resulting in some of the group members erecting temporary shelters in the area outside the church.

The refugees are demanding emergency housing from the City and eventual relocation to a country of their choosing. They have rejected the proposal of reintegration. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has repeatedly advised the refugees that they will not be resettled in another country.”

The occupation of the church and the area around it has resulted in numerous transgressions of the City’s by-laws, claims of criminal activity and has had a significant impact on the surrounding businesses.

The City has applied to the Western Cape High Court to allow for the enforcement of its by-laws in order to address the current situation, which was necessitated by another legal matter challenging the City’s by-laws.

The application was postponed until today, Tuesday 28 January.

The City will attend court on the assigned date to obtain the final order.

The City cannot accede to the demand of emergency housing for this group ahead of the thousands in real need.

“The department of home affairs (DHA) has been absent from a crisis which only they were able to resolve, leaving the rest of us to try and resolve it with inadequate powers and options,” continues the statement.

“This inaction and obstruction is why the City’s court application also cited the South African Police Service and the DHA, who opposed the application.

“However, the City continues to engage with these two entities and all other relevant stakeholders, including the South African Human Rights Commission, UNHCR, Right to Know, More than Peace, the Central Methodist Church, provincial government and the protesters in order to find an urgent solution to this matter.”

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