Tent City refugees now facing eviction from Bellville and Kensington temporary encampments

Foreign nationals living in tents along the pavement in Bellville. Picture: Byron Lukas

Foreign nationals living in tents along the pavement in Bellville. Picture: Byron Lukas

Published Apr 3, 2024


Cape Town - Foreign nationals living in tents in Bellville said they have had sleepless nights since hearing there was a plan to evict them.

The City confirmed they were working with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and Public Works Department to obtain an eviction order in the high court for both Paint City in Bellville and Wingfield in Kensington.

The asylum seekers initially illegally occupied the Methodist Church on Greenmarket Square in 2019, before about 600 people were placed in Bellville at Paint City.

The shelter was established under the Disaster Management Act regulations.

After an internal fight among the asylum seekers, about 150 people were evicted from Paint City and moved to the pavement outside the facility.

Last week they were informed that they would be moved, including those in the tents.

“The City, DHA and national Public Works Department are preparing to submit a joint eviction application to the high court for those refugees still unlawfully occupying the DHA-run facilities at Paint City and Wingfield,” the City said.

“These facilities served the purpose of DHA repatriation and reintegration processes following the unlawful occupation at Greenmarket Square and related relocation to these sites.

“In the interim, the City is exploring ways to resolve the unlawful occupation of the sidewalk and the road itself by segmenting the City’s Paint City facility so that both groupings will be separated with different access points.”

After the refugees, who were placed in the tents during the Covid-19 lockdown, heard there were plans to evict them, they said they would like to be moved to another country.

Dutamo Azazh said: “We can’t move back to the townships where we lived before occupying Greenmarket Square. I was kidnapped twice when I lived in Khayelitsha and in Paarl, I lost everything and now I can never go back. We would like to be moved to a place where we can feel safe. We are not safe to go to our own countries and also if we are reintegrated into communities. We need to move from this country, we can’t say where, but we want to go to a place like Europe for a better life, a First World country which is safe.”

Aisha Musa said when her family uprooted their lives from Darling, she thought she would get papers for her children and also be moved to a better area.

“After my husband lost his job, we decided to go to Greenmarket Square after hearing that there was a protest. We thought it would help us with the papers for our children because I have been in Cape Town for more than 10 years and I still have asylum seeker status.

“We have not been well since hearing about the eviction last week. We don’t know when they are going to evict us. We don’t know what we are going to do because I can’t go back to Darling.”