Refugees should comply with laws of country – Committee

Chairperson says it is untenable that situation in Cape Town persists despite numerous interventions

Refugee situation in Cape Town

3 March 2020

 The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, Adv Bongani Bongo, has called for the immediate resolution of the situation involving the refugees, who were located outside the Central Methodist Mission church in Cape Town.

“It is untenable that the situation continues to persist, despite numerous attempted interventions that have not yielded desirable results. We would like to urge refugees to comply with the laws of the country and with the by-laws of the City of Cape Town,” Adv Bongo said. The Chairperson also called for the full implementation of the City of Cape Town by-laws and the recently attained court order to ensure that the matter is brought to an end.

The Chairperson highlighted that he considers it unfortunate that the refugees have persisted to undermine the laws of this country as a way of forcing the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to act in a way that is only satisfactory to them, despite information that the UNHCR is unable to assist. Furthermore, the Minister of Home Affairs informed the committee that he had held numerous interactions with the countries the refugees say they are willing to relocate to, but that these countries are unwilling to assist.

The actions of the refugees are even more concerning considering that the xenophobia they refer to is not a factor in Cape Town. South Africa welcomes refugees and asylum seekers, especially in the context of our history, but the pre-condition of any country accepting refugees is that the laws of the receiving country will be respected at all times,” Adv Bongo highlighted. While the committee is against the use of force, it is of the view that adherence to laws will prevent such actions in future.

The committee hopes that a reasonable resolution to this standoff can be found, especially for the women and children caught up in this standoff. The committee calls on the refugees to consider reintegrating into the communities they came from before the start of the protest, to enable children to go back to school. Furthermore, each individual must apply through the UNHCR process for further assistance. The committee further calls on all levels of government to work together with the UNHCR and the refugees to find amicable solutions to the challenges the refugees face.     

Issued by Malatswa Molepo, Media Officer,Parliamentary Communication Services, 3 March 2020