The Western Cape High Court has ordered refugees to comply with municipal by-laws. Picture     Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)
The Western Cape High Court has ordered refugees to comply with municipal by-laws. Picture Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)

Refugees living on Greenmarket Square can no longer make fires, do washing

By Raphael Wolf Time of article published Feb 18, 2020

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Cape Town – Refugees living on Greenmarket Square in the CBD have been ordered by the Western Cape High Court to abide by municipal by-laws.

Those refugees occupying the sidewalk have been instructed not to make fires or do their washing there, among other things.

The court has also ordered the City to make a venue available at which the Department of Home Affairs could process the refugees.

The case landed in the high court after the City last year brought an application against the refugees, requesting they vacate the church and the area around it, as well as the City Centre. 

It sought an interdict against the refugees flouting health and safety laws, and affecting tourism and businesses.

In ruling in the City’s favour yesterday, Acting Judge Daniel Thulare gave the case’s five respondents, including refugee leaders Jean-Pierre Balous and Papy Sukami, until March 17 to give reasons why the interim order should not be made final.

Judge Thulare told a packed courtroom: “What is clear to me is that unless the court intervenes, the conduct of the respondents, which has no regard for authority, the rights of others and the law will continue. 

"The City has satisfied me of the facts necessary for its right to be protected in this application.”

He further ordered the respondents to refrain from certain conduct in Longmarket and Burg streets, sidewalks, Greenmarket Square or elsewhere in the City.

This includes that they refrain from intimidating, threatening, harassing, assaulting or in any way interfering with the City’s officials or persons acting on its behalf, or law enforcement at the affected area.

“The demands of the respondents are unreasonable. The court cannot advance conduct which makes it impossible for the City to govern its territory. The City had shown a prima facie right which if not protected by an interdict, irreparable harm would ensue,” Judge Thulare said.

Balous said he was unhappy with the judgment. “For us this is a big test of what life is like in South Africa for refugees,” he said.

The refugees and asylum-seekers had previously conducted protests for almost an entire month, demanding that the UN Refugee Agency take them out of South Africa to a welcoming country where they would feel safe.

They claimed that xenophobic attacks against them in South Africa were an almost daily occurrence.

Cape Times

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