Cape Town refugees set up new camp near CBD police station
3 March 2020
About 200 refugees and asylum seekers continued their Cape Town sit-in on Tuesday, this time around the corner from the Cape Town Central police station.
"We slept here last night," said Esther Loulndr on the pavement in Albertus Street.
As tourist groups walked past, she was leaning against the wall of the District 6 Museum, which memorialises the forced removals from nearby District 6 during apartheid.
Like the others there, she said she had nowhere to go.
The City of Cape Town has said that it is not able to provide accommodation due to the already extremely high demand for housing assistance.
It is encouraging the group to return to where they lived before their sit-in protest began outside the UNHCR's offices at the Waldorf Arcade in St George's Mall last October.
After they were removed by police through a court order, the Rev Alan Storey offered them shelter at the nearby Central Methodist Mission church on Greenmarket Square.
They want another country to accept them because they say that, as foreigners, they are not safe in South Africa.
The UNHCR has made it clear that it is not going to relocate them, so the group is in limbo now after being removed from outside the church. Those in the church are not affected because the City does not have jurisdiction there.
Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said there were no new arrests overnight.
Some do have work as drivers, but the mantra has been that they cannot afford to pay rent, so they are stuck on the pavements.
They have said they would rather get food and a shower in jail than risk going back to their countries of origin, or the Cape Town suburbs where they had lived.
These include Delft and Belhar.
Albertus Street was partially cordoned off on Tuesday
Their bags and blankets were set out on the pavement, stretching between the Namaqua Trading Company, the District 6 Museum and a coffee shop.
Children played Ludo with a homemade board carefully carried around by a little boy during Monday's stand-off with City Law Enforcement near the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
The group had been living in awnings and tents on the perimeter of the Methodist church and were removed in terms of a February 17 court order.
A massive cleaning team descended on Greenmarket Square on Sunday for a "deep clean" to remove discarded clothes, cardboard and food, and to wash the cobblestones after the heat had left the area smelling of urine. Traders in the area, many of them also refugees and asylum seekers, had complained that their businesses were suffering and that they were being threatened by some in the group.
Due to a leadership breakaway, the group was divided into two camps - one living inside and one living outside the church.