Cape Town - The refugees that staged a “sit-in” protest at the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in the CBD were forced to gather what was left of their belongings and seek refuge at the local Good Hope Metropolitan Community Church after they were evicted by the police.
The more than 5000 refugees and asylum seekers came as far as Port Elizabeth and Durban stage a month-long protest at the Waldorf Arcade mall with the hope of being taken to Canada, where “we will feel safe and welcome, where we will be treated like a human being".
Earlier on Wednesday businesses on Greenmarket Square came to a standstill after a confrontation between the police, law enforcement and the group of refugees turned violent.
The refugees were evicted following a court order by the owner of the Waldorf Arcade.
Bruised and sobbing Maria Netenga said: “We are suffering and are not safe. Going back to the townships and our countries is not an option. We are only fighting for our own rights, but the police saw it fit to assault and kill us.”
Kabongo Npiana Jean from Burundi said the government has failed the refugees and asylum seekers.
“I have been in the country for more than 15 years and have been struggling with official documents. I recently went to the bank to apply for an account but was told to bring a passport. How am I expected to produce a passport when I have been to Home Affairs for the past 15 years but all they do is renew the permit only for three and six months?” he said.