Refugees and asylum seekers are braving cold and wet conditions in their sit-in over their demands to be taken out of the country. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The cold and rainy weather has not deterred the more than 5000 refugees and asylum seekers who have staged a “sit in” protest outside the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices at Waldorf Arcade in the CBD.

Instead the protest organisers said there has been a swelling number of people arriving every day, demanding to be taken out of the country.

Jean Pierre, a refugee rights activist at Women and Child Concern said the wet and cold weather was nothing compared to the ill treatment they had to endure everyday in the townships where they live. Wet and cold conditions, which started this past Friday, were expected to last until Tuesday.

Executive director for safety and security Richard Bosman said law enforcement staff had been visible in the area as part of their daily operations in the CBD, as complaints were received about entrances to shops being blocked and portions of Greenmarket Square being made inaccessible for traders who have valid permits.

Safety and security mayoral committee member JP Smith said: “This matter is completely in the hands of SAPS and the Department of Home Affairs. The owner of the property there has applied for a court interdict; the interdict will likely be effected at some point by the police.

However, Pierre who said he was not aware of the court interdict, and lambasted the claims as “stupid rumours” meant to discourage them.

“Whatever interdict that can come out of the court will never touch us. We do not care about the courts, because we are not here because of the owner, but because of the UNHCR. We have no plans to move, our only move is either to be taken out of this country, or get killed while waiting here.”

Pierre said there were individuals that were donating water and food.

He said the group which currently uses a single toilet had been waiting for relief from the City, but to no avail.

“The City has been here more than 20 times, promising some relief, but every time they come they only take pictures.”


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Cape Argus