146 foreigners move to Cato Ridge
Durban - The future remains uncertain for 146 foreigners who are temporarily living at Hope Farm after a government camp for victims of xenophobia in Chatsworth closed down last week.
The group moved to the Cato Ridge farm on Monday after the state dropped charges of trespassing against 85 parents.
They were arrested at Chatsworth’s Westcliff Stadium on Friday after they refused to leave the ground.
“We refused to leave because when the government moved us from Isipingo camp in April they promised they would not close down all the camps until all the victims of xenophobia had been assisted. We haven’t been given the help we need,” said Kabange Kaji on Thursday.
Her sentiments were shared by a fellow Congolese, Patrick Lubojha. During their detention, the Department of Social Development took their children to a place of safety and they were only reunited on Monday after Hope Farm owners Andrew and Rae Wartnaby committed themselves to accommodating them on their property.
“This is a temporarily situation, but we are grateful both to them and their family for opening their doors and hearts to us,” said Lubojha.
The adults at the camp refused to take the UN High Commissioner for Refugees financial assistance for those who were reintegrated back to the communities or be resettled elsewhere.
“It is hard to go back to a community where you don’t feel safe. I’ve tried resettling after the 2008 xenophobic attacks and that hasn’t helped me because I suffered the same fate this year,” said Kaji.
“The government keep telling us that they’ve had dialogues with the communities, but how can they be certain the process was successful when we have never been part of those dialogues,” she said.
Andrew and Rae Wartnaby went to the Chatsworth camp on Friday when they heard the immigrants had spent Thursday night with no shelter, but the police had already arrested them.
“Our main concern was the children and so on Monday we made a decision to bring them home with us when the state said it would only drop charges against them if they provided an address of where they would be taking the children,” said Andrew.
The couple had to ask family and friends for assistance.
“Everyone has been really supportive - not just the local community and the people we know but also the KwaZulu-Natal Council of Churches, the Gift of the Givers and others,” said Andrew.
“We need baby supplies, food, medicine, clothes, blankets, mattresses, cooking pots, plants, water tanks, and so on,” he said.
While the future remained uncertain, both Kaji and Lubojha said they were hopeful their lawyers would help them out of their current situation.
A meeting between all the stakeholders, including the government and lawyers, is planned for Friday.
For more information contact Dr Lucas Ngoetjana at [email protected] or 033 345 4819.