Officers loaded the personal possessions of the foreign nationals onto trucks after the court ruled the refugees may no longer live, sleep, cook and wash in public spaces. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / ANA
Officers loaded the personal possessions of the foreign nationals onto trucks after the court ruled the refugees may no longer live, sleep, cook and wash in public spaces. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / ANA

WATCH: Law enforcement officers removing refugee structures on Greenmarket Square

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Mar 1, 2020

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Cape Town – A large group of City of Cape Town Law Enforcement officers – some wearing masks over their mouths – have started removing the structures of foreign nationals living on the pavement along Burg and Longmarket streets at Greenmarket Square in the CBD. 

Officers loaded the personal possessions of the foreign nationals onto trucks after the Western Cape High Court court ruled more than a week ago the refugees may no longer live, sleep, cook and wash in public spaces. 

It is unclear at this stage where the foreign nationals are being moved to. 

Last week, City officials informed and documented about 300 foreigners living outside the Central Methodist Church. The court order applies only to foreigners living outside the Central Methodist Church.

By 10.20am, about half of the structures had been taken down, TimesLive reported. Although the operation is peaceful, the officers are being heckled by some of the refugees.

It was unclear if only the structures will be removed, or if the refugees will also be relocated on Sunday.

One refugee shouted: “Our eyes are open, you are eating our money. We are suffering. Just come kill us here. Put us on an airplane and send us somewhere else.”

Claiming they fear for their safety, the refugees have been demanding relocation to other countries. They first started protesting outside the UN Refugee Agency offices in St George's Mall last year, with their numbers growing exponentially.

The UNHCR said, however, there was no legal possibility of them being relocated to another country as demanded.

Cape Town – A large group of City of Cape Town Law Enforcement officers – some wearing masks over their mouths – have started removing the structures of foreign nationals living on the pavement along Burg and Longmarket streets at Greenmarket Square in the CBD. 

Officers loaded the personal possessions of the foreign nationals onto trucks after the Western Cape High Court court ruled more than a week ago the refugees may no longer live, sleep, cook and wash in public spaces. 

It is unclear at this stage where the foreign nationals are being moved to. 

Last week, City officials informed and documented about 300 foreigners living outside the Central Methodist Church. The court order applies only to foreigners living outside the Central Methodist Church.

By 10.20am, about half of the structures had been taken down, TimesLive reported. Although the operation is peaceful, the officers are being heckled by some of the refugees.

It was unclear if only the structures will be removed, or if the refugees will also be relocated on Sunday.

One refugee shouted: “Our eyes are open, you are eating our money. We are suffering. Just come kill us here. Put us on an airplane and send us somewhere else.”

Claiming they fear for their safety, the refugees have been demanding relocation to other countries. They first started protesting outside the UN Refugee Agency offices in St George's Mall last year, with their numbers growing exponentially.

The UNHCR said, however, there was no legal possibility of them being relocated to another country as demanded.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said: "We deployed a large number of Law Enforcement officers to prevent an outbreak of violence.

"The City of Cape Town is not insensitive to the plight of the refugees, but we can simply not allow the situation to carry on unchecked, as it has had a major impact on surrounding businesses, including the traders on Greenmarket Square.

"Furthermore, we are not in a position to provide emergency shelter to the group, given the great need that exists among South Africans, not to mention the precedent that it would set.

"We appeal to the refugees to return to the homes they vacated to join the initial occupation of St George’s Mall. 

"It is not legally or practically possible for the City to supply accommodation and no other sphere of government has agreed to supply such either.

"Some of the refugees have left Greenmarket Square – enforcement agencies are monitoring locations to which persons are moving and will act on these if necessary. The court order says refugees may not settle elsewhere in CBD, so persons will be in contempt of court.

"We also invite businesses and the public to return to Greenmarket Square and help us revitalise the area."

Video: Ayanda Ndamane
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