Refugees living inside and outside the Central Methodist Church on Greenmarket Square rejected the City of Cape Town’s offer of “voluntary reintegration” on Monday, GroundUp reported.
The City sent two minibuses to Greenmarket Square to return them to the communities where they had lived.
However, they refused the offer, saying they do not want to be reintegrated and would wait for a decision in the Western Cape High Court tomorrow.
The City sought a court order in December to prevent the refugees from flouting by-laws and disrupting business on Greenmarket Square.
The case would resume on Tuesday when, according to Richard Bosman, who is the City’s executive director for safety and security, it hoped to obtain a final order to enforce the by-laws.
Whether this will give the City the authority to remove the refugees is not entirely clear.
On Monday, the City’s director of law enforcement, Petrus Roberts, tried to address a group of refugees about transport being provided for reintegration. Some of the refugees became agitated and interrupted his speech, chanting:
“No more South Africa. No more xenophobia.”
Aline Bukuru, one of the refugee leaders, told GroundUp they had not camped out for four months only to be sent back to the communities they were trying to escape from. She said they had received no details from the City about the reintegration, “only rumours”.
However, Bosman said the offer of voluntary reintegration was “supported by relevant government agencies [home affairs, the police, City and UNHCR] and was communicated accordingly among the agencies as well as the refugees”.
Crispin Mongwe, one of the refugees’ spokespersons, told GroundUp law enforcement officers told the refugees last week they would have the opportunity to leave on Monday if they filled out forms, and volunteered to be taken by bus. But Mongwe said “we have decided to wait for the court day”.
The refugees have been protesting outside the UNHCR offices in St George’s Mall and were removed on October 30 but later regrouped at the church. Because the church is so full, many have been living outside on Longmarket Street.