City of Cape Town, De Lille in row over removal of amenities for refugees at Paint City
Cape Town - The City’s health directorate has issued a warning to Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille, accusing her of contravening its environmental health by-law after her office removed the amenities at the Paint City site in Bellville, where refugees have been staying temporarily.
In a statement the City said: “The national department of public works is now threatening to unilaterally evict all refugees at the Bellville site without a court order by removing the tent providing shelter to these persons.
“The department has already removed toilets and ablution facilities servicing refugees. A warning letter has been issued to the department compelling them to return the ablution facilities.
“They have failed to acknowledge this letter and have failed to return the ablution facilities therefore worsening the health condition at the site. The City will now issue a Compliance Notice instructing the return of sanitation facilities.”
According to the City, the removal of the amenities has created a health hazard at the site.
“The City wishes to confirm that the department of public works is solely managing the Paint City site, and rejects claims that the City agreed to use this site for sheltering refugees.
“The City remains open to negotiating a more appropriate solution on the matter through the available intergovernmental relations mechanisms,” it said.
The Department of Public Works started to remove the amenities. De Lille’s office confirmed that it was in the process of removing the marquee.
About 600 refugees have lived at the Paint City temporary shelter for eight months, after being removed from Greenmarket Square. The shelter was established under the Disaster Management Act regulations. Currently, the Department of Public Works is planning to terminate its involvement with the refugees.
De Lille accused the City of playing crèche politics: “I’m wondering who the real leader in the crèche is, so that I can buy him some nappies.
“The City has refused to carry out its mandate to provide shelter and sanitation services to refugees at Paint City which is owned by the City. The use of City land for accommodating the refugees was agreed to by the mayor and thereafter the decision was changed by the mayor’s boss.”
Meanwhile the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is concerned about the situation in Paint City. Spokesperson Kate Pond said: “UNHCR has committed to ameliorating the situation by providing sanitation and hygiene services in the site for three months.”