Refugees allegedly assault religious leaders, human rights officials in Cape Town

 

 

Faith leaders including Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and South African Human Rights (SAHRC) Commissioner Reverend Chris Nissen have allegedly been assaulted by refugees currently occupying the Greenmarket Square Methodist church in Cape Town.

About 200 hundred refugees have been occupying the building for almost two weeks now.

READ MORE: Police and migrants clash in downtown Cape Town

They sought refuge there after being forcibly removed from the offices of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees after a three-week sit-in.

The group is demanding to be repatriated to other countries because they say they feel unsafe in South Africa.

READ MORE: Cape Town police action against refugees under scrutiny

Non-governmental organisations, the SAHRC and faith leaders have for the past few weeks been negotiating with refugee groups, the UN, and the department of home affairs about what to do next as the UN says expatriation is not an option.

But on Friday, as faith leaders addressed the group, pandemonium broke out.

“Chaos broke out when some of the refugee leaders attacked another pastor in the church. Then they assaulted me and then also the archbishop of Cape Town. There are people still in the church. We fear for their lives,” Nissen said.

“It’s becoming a hostage situation. Luckily the archbishop and I managed to get out. They hit him and they threw bottles at him,” he said.

Nissen said he doesn’t know the reason for the alleged assault.

“They went berserk. We gave them a report back on what we have done. And then another Congolese pastor came up and spoke and then they attacked the pastor. They then rushed the podium and attacked us,” Nissen said.

“We were clobbered,” Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba told the Mail & Guardian.

“I have a bump on my head, but I’ll be alright.”

Faith leaders were delivering the resolutions of meetings about the future of the refugees with three options on offer.

They would be offered repatriation to their home country if it was safe. Relocation to another country, on a case-by-case basis and dependent on whether another country would receive them. Or they would be offered reintegration into communities in Cape Town

Makgoba said this was not well received.

“If I were to put on my psychologist hat, I would describe this as termination anxiety. We were delivering the hard truth. Things they didn’t want to hear. So they expressed some level of anger,” Makgoba said.

The incidents in the Cape Town CBD follow tense scenes in Pretoria on Thursday when refugees camped outside the UNHCR’s office there was ordered by the North Gauteng High Court to move.

Police were called in when the refugees breached the walls of the UN agency to camp inside.

Refugee leaders at the church in Cape Town have not responded to requests for comment. 

Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit is a Reporter, Journalist, and Broadcaster.
Advertisting

R1.1-billion land claim “captured”

This story was produced in partnership with Pulitzer Center. Details of the land claim settlement for MalaMala, one...

Lekwa municipality won’t answer questions about why children died in...

Three children are dead. More than a dozen homes have been gutted by fires in the past six months. And, as...

Failure to investigate TRC cases during the Mandela era delayed...

Counsel for late trade unionist Neil Aggett’s family decries the slow pace of instituting an inquest into his death

SANDF colonel accused of swindling colleagues in UN business scam

A senior soldier who is part of South Africa’s peacekeeping missions is accused by her colleagues of swindling them out of of hundreds of thousands of rands in a nonexistent business deal
Advertising

Press Releases

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.