An estimated 500 foreign nationals have been removed from the Central Methodist Church in Cape Town, despite attempts to resist the police operation by locking themselves inside the building.
The police moved in by breaking the doors on both entrances and escorted them to a number of buses waiting outside.
The group is being transported to the new site in Bellville. They will be housed in a marquee that can accommodate up to 600 people.
Human Rights Commissioner in the Western Cape Chris Nissen says the removal of the foreign nationals is for their protection and health.
“We as the Human Rights Commission we are saying yes we support the president and government efforts to stop this virus, with this comes a lot of demands all South Africans must follow regulations including people who have been living n in the church here, its also protection for them rather than a punishment , its a protection for safety and for health,” he says.
Meanwhile, about 100 out of 200 foreign nationals who were being housed at a private refugee centre at Musina, in Limpopo, have been relocated to the local showground.
The relocation was done to ensure that there is no congestion and social distancing is being practiced at the centre.
The foreign nationals were left stranded as they were applying for asylum at the Home Affairs offices when the 21-day national lockdown to curb coronavirus started last week. They say they are relieved that arrangements are being made to protect them from COVID-19 infection.
“To my side I feel somehow good because this disease sometimes make us feel afraid but now we hope, we are going to a certain place which will feel us safe.
“I come from DRC, I was just here waiting for an asylum. I can say that am so happy that we are moving to this new place and hope that we are going to is a safe, because this corona is the most dangerous disease and we have been afraid of thing I come from Zaire, Congo,” some foreign nationals say.
In this video below, is a SABC News report on the raid at the Central Methodist Church:
Lending a hand to the homeless
The rural towns of the Cape Winelands Municipality have opened up community centres for the homeless in order to comply with lockdown regulations.
Executive Mayor of the Drakenstein Municipality Conrad Poole says they have roped in other departments, including Social Services in an effort to reunite some of the homeless with their families.
Poole says the municipality has received 20 water tanks, which have been delivered at some informal settlements in the area.
“We are not only looking out just for the vulnerable just that they must eat, we are actually building social cohesion that must exist; how can we unite the people from the street with families and at the moment we are successful in that as well. Two persons living in the street is united back with the families and this is an opportunity we have at the moment that we can address these social ills,” says Poole.
Call for inclusion
Meanwhile, some traditional healers are calling on the Department of Health to include them in the country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. They demand to be included in decision-making processes by government.
They believe they can also contribute in spreading the message of prevention.
The National coordinator of Traditional Healers Organisation Phephisile Maseko says their role is critical in the country as they have an increased number of patients who believe in culture and tradition.
“It is very important that traditional healers as being the first line of contact are involved in the decision of anything that is health care. It is important that when President invites key stakeholders healers are part of those meetings, once a healer is convinced, it will be much easier to convince the patient,” says Maseko.