Cape Town – The refugee crisis in Cape Town is far from over as 68 asylum-seekers who opted to be reintegrated into communities were evicted on Monday from a place they were squatting at in Bellville.

Among the 68 asylum-seekers were 11 families with children.

One of the leaders, Cedrick Onesime, told the Cape Argus that they slept at the Bellville police station because the children were getting cold.

“We left the church on March 21 and the SA human Rights Commission assisted us to sleep in a guest house.

“The owner put us out and we don’t know what to do. We are human beings; we accepted to be reintegrated. We accepted this voluntarily, we don’t know what to do,” Onesime said.

He said the Human Rights Commission was supposed to assist them.

“We cannot go to Bellville and we can’t go to Wingfield. So what must happen to us? We have children among us,” Onesime said.

At a recent portfolio committee meeting, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said he had spoken to the ambassadors of Burundi, DRC and Ethiopia regarding the refugees.

“They are all prepared to help their citizens return to their native lands,” he said.

“More than 450 refugees and asylum-seekers were moved to the Wingfield Military Base near Goodwood, where they are expected to stay during the national lockdown.

“The repatriation of refugees is not the government’s ‘first choice’. They would rather be reintegrated into South African societies, but they don’t want this,” he said.

SA Human Rights Commissioner Chris Nissen said: “This is a very complex matter, the group in question was assisted by a Good Samaritan who allowed them to stay at the guest house. In the interim, we informed them that they would have to look for alternative accommodation if they want to be reintegrated. They cannot make demands and they need to look for accommodation.”

Cape Argus

By Marvin Charles