The SA Human Rights Commission says a meeting will be held on Monday next week to find a solution to the crisis faced by foreign nationals in the Cape Town city centre. They’ve been staying in a church at Green market Square since October. On Sunday, a fight broke out between the foreign nationals causing a split within the group.
A dire situation getting worse by the day, the group has broken in two, with one faction in support of Jean-Pierre Balous and the other in support of Papy Sukami. Sukami accuses Balous of being untrustworthy and creating division amongst the foreign nationals.
Aid organisations and government departments, among others, were refused access to the group over the course of the last two months. Now Sukami says they will accept any kind of help to ease their plight.
“We have children suffering with chickenpox, people are starving here the situation is unbearable, we need dialogue people here are victims of xenophobia they still asking to be evacuated from South Africa. But we are asking the UNHCR as they say to come for individual interview to sort out this matter,” says Sukami.
Sukami says they still want to leave South Africa. Balous has been speaking on behalf of the entire group for several weeks. He has also hit back at the criticism against him.
“What I’m serving here is the dignity of the people that are been already destroyed. I’m trying to restore that dignity, there is no help that has been refused, certain organisations saying they work for refugees, but doing business, and I will never allow them to get involve because they never solve any refugees situation here,” says Sukami.
On Tuesday, a foreign national appeared briefly in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on charges of possessing dangerous weapons. The man is part of the group that is taking shelter at the church in the city centre.
Human Rights Commissioner Chris Nissen says there’s an urgent need to find a solution to the crisis faced by the foreign nationals before the matter is back in court on the 22nd of January.
He says the leaders of the foreign nations, the City of Cape Town, the Home Affairs department and the office of the UNHCR will meet on Monday to discuss alternative accommodation.
“People are desperate they say we thought we are going to be resettled, but it’s not gonna happen. In two weeks the schools are starting, we need to get those children to school. We will engage the leadership on these issues with all those stakeholders to ensure that there’s protection for women and children the most vulnerable,” says Nissen.
The police are closely monitoring the situation.