Refugees and asylum seekers were moved to the Wingfield Military Base near Kensington after being removed from the Central Methodist Mission Church in the CBD. Picture: Ian Landsberg / African News Agency (ANA)
Refugees and asylum seekers were moved to the Wingfield Military Base near Kensington after being removed from the Central Methodist Mission Church in the CBD. Picture: Ian Landsberg / African News Agency (ANA)

Reintegrate or repatriate: Cape residents want solutions to refugee crisis

By Marvin Charles Time of article published Oct 14, 2020

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Cape Town - There are growing concerns among Goodwood, Factreton and Kensington residents that refugees who have been staying at the Wingfield Military Base could be there permanently, because all the government departments have no idea what to do next.

Goodwood Ratepayers and Residents Association chairperson Faizel Petersen, said: “The concern from the ratepayers in both Goodwood and Kensington is the fact that we have a history of temporary relocations by local government, which then results in a permanent fixture.

“The Wingfield site occupants have no enforcement of Covid-19 regulations - no adherence to social distancing. On a daily basis the refugees move to and from Goodwood in search of food and medical assistance.”

Petersen said there were several similar situations, including at Blikkiesdorp and Kensington, where there were numerous informal settlements.

Refugees who had been scattered across the city CBD since last October were relocated to either the Bellville Paint City site or the Wingfield military base. The move was due to Covid-19 regulations.

Kensington, Factreton Residents and Ratepayers Association chairperson Leslie Swartz, said: “We have written to the officials and we have raised concerns about this being more permanent. As a community, we are battling to get water services and we fear that we could see disaster much bigger than Covid-19.”

Officials were expected to meet this week to discuss a solution. Currently, there are two proposals by the Department of Home Affairs: either the refugees are reintegrated into their communities or repatriated.

Spokesperson for the refugees Papy Sukami, said: “We are waiting for a decision to be made. We have not received any assistance from anyone and we are starving here. We have no choice but to stay here. It’s not safe in our communities or where we come from because there’s war and they kill people.”

Mark Rountree, director of administration to the Public Works and Infrastructure MEC, told residents in a correspondence: “Our office is working with the Department of Home Affairs and the City of Cape Town, who manage several shelter spaces across the metro, to determine the way forward for this site. A further meeting is taking place this week with the respective departments to chart a way forward.”

Executive director for safety and security Richard Bosman, said: “ The City and the national Department of Home Affairs are busy with a process of engagement to find a sustainable solution to the reintegration of the affected persons back into various communities.”

Cape Argus

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