Cato Ridge couple given September deadline to evict refugees

2015-07-31 20:00
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WATCH: KZN family homes 143 xenophobia refugees on their farm

2015-07-08 11:14

A KwaZulu-Natal family has opened its 20-hectare farm to 143 foreign nationals, including children, who were displaced during the recent xenophobic attacks. Watch.WATCH

Johannesburg - A couple from Cato Ridge in KwaZulu-Natal, who offered displaced refugees a place to live after a spate of xenophobic attacks spread across the province, have been warned to evict the refugees by the first week of September.

"The deadline has been set for September 6 to September 9," farm owner Rae Wartnaby told News24.

She said municipal officials told her husband, Andrew, at a meeting two weeks ago that the couple had violated municipal by-laws.

"They haven't told us [which by-laws] yet," she said.

The couple opened their 20-hectare home, called Hope Farm in Killarney Valley in Cato Ridge, to 143 foreign nationals, including children, who were displaced during the recent xenophobic attacks.

They said they were heartbroken when they heard that the eThekwini municipality was closing the single remaining camp for displaced foreigners in Chatsworth earlier this month.

The couple’s hearts sank further when they heard that foreigners had been arrested and separated from their children after illegally occupying the camp.

They spent days speaking to lawyers and offering help.

The lawyers told the couple that if the refugees had an address to go to, they would be able to sort out the charges and get the families reunited. The Wartnaby's then offered their home.

"It is not like we are trying to annoy anybody. We aren't doing anything outside the law. What we are trying to do is care for this group of people and give them the time and space they need, to speak to the lawyers.

"We believe if someone doesn't have a home, we'll provide it for them. We are not asking anything from the government. We want to help them until such a time that they find a medium to long-term solution," she said.

Doctors Without Borders spokesperson Ryan Fortune said municipal officials had also expressed their "displeasure" about the fact that the organisation, as well as the SA Council of Churches, were providing medical care, food and clothing to the refugees.

"All members of the Anti-Xenophobia Coalition view these latest developments with grave concern, and are calling on the South African authorities to desist from heavy-handed actions or legal threats until all matters have been resolved amicably for all concerned."

Read more on:    durban  |  xenophobia
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