Hundreds of asylum seekers evicted from S.African church
Hundreds of foreign asylum seekers living in a Cape Town church since February were removed on Thursday, with authorities citing a coronavirus lockdown to justify the action.
undreds of foreign asylum seekers living in a Cape Town church since February were removed on Thursday, with authorities citing a coronavirus lockdown to justify the action.
Dozens of policemen broke down the wooden church doors with a hammer and stormed the building.
The asylum seekers were herded on buses and taken to a temporary shelter outside the city, where a marquee has been set up to house the homeless during South Africa’s 21-day shutdown.
Some of them shouted that South Africa “would be punished for this”.
“Throwing us out is not safe because of this virus,” said Aline Bukuru from DR Congo.
“There are homeless people there and when you’re staying with the homeless you are not safe. You are exposed to drugs and many dangers.”
Cape Town City official J.P. Smith said they would eventually be relocated to a separate site reserved for foreigners.
“The COVID lockdown regulations say that you are not allowed to be 100 people congregating on a site,” Smith told AFP.
The asylum seekers, mainly from DR Congo and Burundi, started camping outside the Cape Town offices of the United Nation’s refugee agency in October, asking the UN to relocate them to another country and claiming they no longer feel safe in South Africa following a wave of xenophobic attacks.
Most were taken in by the Cape Town Methodist Church after police removed them from the city centre, where their presence had led to several shops being closed.