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Western Cape spent R99 000 of the premier’s budget on refugee assistance

Premier Alan Winde told the standing committee on the premier and constitutional affairs that Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi called asking for assistance with providing tent and ablution facilities for refugees. Picture:Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Premier Alan Winde told the standing committee on the premier and constitutional affairs that Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi called asking for assistance with providing tent and ablution facilities for refugees. Picture:Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Published Dec 9, 2021

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Cape Town - Fear of stripping people of their dignity and damaging the Western Cape’s reputation in the process, led to the province shelling out R99 000 from its budget to meet a request by the national government to help the former Greenmarket Square refugees.

Premier Alan Winde told the standing committee on the premier and constitutional affairs that Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi called asking for assistance with providing tent and ablution facilities for refugees who wanted to be repatriated at the start of the pandemic in April last year.

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While scrutinising the Department of the Premier’s budget adjustment spending, committee member Peter Marais (Freedom Front Plus) had asked why the province had spent part of its budget on the refugees, a national government function, yet the national Treasury had cut allocations to the Western Cape.

Winde said that when the minister called him, there was about a week’s overlap between when the foreign nationals were due to fly back to their countries of origin and when the tents were going to be taken down.

“Between the City, the province and the national department, we wanted to avert an international crisis of refugees not being looked after properly,” he said.

“We had a date for when we were going to remove the tent and the toilets and all I could see was headlines in every international newspaper saying, ’in the Western Cape they don’t care about foreign nationals. They’ve got seven days to go and the toilets and tents have been removed.’”

Committee member Cameron Dugmore (ANC) questioned the department’s spending of R2.1 million on wellness interns and asked what their functions are.

Director-general Harry Malila said the interns had Honours degrees in psychology.

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He said their job was to relieve some of the pressure on staffers in the province’s three front-line departments, education, health and social development, given the effects of Covid-19 on mental health.

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Cape Argus

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