Refugee leader ‘ashamed’ of R600K damage to CBD church
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Cape Town – A leader of the refugees who were living at the Central Methodist Church said he was ashamed to hear of damages caused to the church.
The Central Methodist Church had housed hundreds of refugees for months and, according to reports, the church suffered damages in the amount of R600 000. The damages were to the church’s organ, a 100-year-old painting, as well as pews and carpets.
The church’s Reverend Alan Storey did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.
He was quoted as saying cleaning and fumigation would cost
The installation of new carpets and repairs to pews, plumbing and the electricity infrastructure would cost at least R500 000.
Papy Sukami, a leader and spokesperson for the refugees, said while he was not inside the church and the group inside had a different leader, he was still ashamed of the damage caused to the holy building.
“When I saw that church, I
cried, because no church in South Africa would think to help refugees again,” he said.
He said he had led the group of men, women and children who slept outside the church.
“The group that was inside was led by another leader and he was more violent, and I tried to let my people keep out of that. I protected my people that slept on the street.
"They (those inside the church) ruined everything and when I spoke to them about it, they continued, and I distanced myself from that.”
After being moved from the church, the group moved to a park in the city centre, and after being removed from there, they went to stay near the Cape Town Central police station.
Sukami said he was glad they had been moved to a temporary area in Bellville.
“It is a bit better here. We feel like we have been treated nicely - like human beings - and there is physical distancing, and it’s not as cramped... like in the church,” he said.