Law enforcement officials are maintaining a strong presence near the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) where a group of foreign nationals has gathered after being removed from a nearby church. The officials moved in to remove the foreigners from the St Mary’s Church which they tried to occupy.

They were earlier removed from Green Market Square following a High Court order. The High Court ruled that the foreign nationals may no longer live, sleep, cook and wash in public spaces.

About 200 foreigners are now sitting on a pavement in Tennant Street near CPUT with law enforcement authorities keeping a close watch.

The City of Cape Town has appealed to businesses and traders to help revitalize Greenmarket Square in the CBD following the removal of the foreign nationals.

Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security JP Smith says the City is not in a position to provide them with emergency shelter.

“We appeal to the refugees to return to their homes they vacated last year 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.”

Smith says the foreign nationals were informed timeously about an operation to remove them.

“The City of Cape Town is not insensitive to the plight of the refugees, but we simply cannot allow the situation to carry on unchecked as it has become a major problem and serious impact on the surrounding businesses, including the traders on Green Market Square. Furthermore, we are not in a position to provide emergency shelter to the group, given a great need that exists among South Africans.”

Smith says any plan they have to settle somewhere else in the CBD will be in contempt of court. Some affected people have called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to intervene.