Three arrested for possession of weapons as refugee stalemate at Cape Town church continues

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Foreign nationals inside the swelteringly hot Cape Town Methodist Church (Jenni Evans, News24)
Foreign nationals inside the swelteringly hot Cape Town Methodist Church (Jenni Evans, News24)

Three foreign nationals were arrested for the possession of dangerous weapons after they became embroiled in an altercation involving refugees at the Central Methodist Mission in Cape Town, according to police.

Police spokesperson Colonel André Traut said officers were at the scene of the altercation on Sunday afternoon.

"During our intervention, three male persons were arrested for being in possession of dangerous weapons," he said on Monday.

The situation stabilised, he said, adding that police would patrol the area.

The men are expected to appear in court soon.

A spokesperson for the group, Papy Sukami, said the dispute related to allegations that one of the prominent leaders of the group raised money for his personal interests.

'We need help'

Refugees felt the man had alienated the group from agencies which might help broker a resolution.

Sukami said pangas were taken into the church on Sunday and parts of the church were damaged.

He said that after the removal of the person, it was hoped that lines of communication with NGOs and government agencies would be reopened again.

"We need the Red Cross, the Gift of the Givers to help," he said, adding that they also needed medical care for children and food.

About 600 people, including more than 100 children, have been living in the church on Greenmarket Square since October 30, after they were forcibly removed from a sit-in protest at the nearby Waldorf Arcade.

They had hoped to be relocated to a country other than their countries of origin, saying they were at risk in South Africa.

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