Home Affairs begins deportation process of 20 foreigners caught up in UNHCR protests last year

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Central Methodist Mission
Central Methodist Mission
Jenni Evans

The Department of Home Affairs has begun the deportation process of 20 foreign nationals who were part of a group of asylum seekers and refugees who protested outside of the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cape Town last year. 

The group wanted the UNHCR to facilitate their move to other countries, but not their countries of origin, following xenophobic attacks in South Africa. After the police arrived at the scene and chaos erupted, the group of about 100 people spent months on Greenmarket Square and occupied the Central Methodist Church until April 2020 before they were relocated to a camp in the city because of Covid-19. 

In a statement, the department said: "The deportation of the 20 foreign nationals followed due process and was confirmed by the court on 2 and 3 November 2020 in terms of the immigration laws of the country. The affected foreign nationals have already been transferred to the Lindela Repatriation Centre for deportation purposes."

READ | Greenmarket Square refugees reject City of Cape Town’s offer of reintegration

The department added that 12 foreign nationals, including a leader of the group, Aline Bukuru, were expected to appear in court on Friday. 

Meanwhile, the department has condemned an attack on foreign shop owners in Durban this week.

"We wish to remind citizens that there are foreign nationals who are in the country legally and are allowed to conduct business in terms of the applicable laws of the country. As such, they should not be unfairly targeted simply on the basis of their nationality," the department said.

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