Cape Town – Refugees living in a tent at Paint City in Bellville are now living in fear after the fence that was erected around the facility was removed.
The fence was moved by the City of Cape Town about two weeks ago.
One of the leaders, Mama Mary, said they live in fear every day since the fence was pulled down.
“We were never safe here since we started living in this tent but now it is even more scary because the fence was removed,” she said.
She said they get threats from taxi drivers and are in constant fights with the homeless, who want to use their water.
She said the City was supposed to come and talk to them about removing the fence.
“The officials know that we want to be moved to a country where we’ll feel safe but no one is coming to address that with us,” she said.
Another leader, Hafiz Mohamad, shared the same sentiments and said even though there’s not been any serious incident so far, they are in fear of thugs.
He said the taxi drivers threaten them when they want to use their toilets.
“There are so many children here and if something happens they will be targets because they won’t be able to defend themselves,” he said.
Mohamad said since the fence was pulled down, the taxis are now parking very close to the tent which is also another cause of concern for them.
Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association’s Mandla Hermanus said they are not aware of the allegations being made against them because no one has come to report the threats.
“We know they have a problem with our taxis parking there but we were asked to move when Covid-19 broke out to make way for them,” he said.
Hermanus said the refugees have a problem with them moving back and this was done by the City, who gave them a portion of the area to park their taxis because of congestion.
He added that the refugees know where their offices are and if such allegations would be reported, they will address the issue.
The City said its transport directorate erected speed fencing, as a temporary measure to enforce social distancing at certain public interchanges across Cape Town, in compliance with the national lockdown regulations.
It further said the tender for the provision of the speed fencing came to an end and all speed fencing at the various public transport infrastructure facilities was removed at the end of March 2021.
“At Paint City, the refugees prevented the transport directorate’s contractor from removing the fence. The contractor attempted to access the site from April 9, 2021 and the refugees turned the contractor away several times. It was finally removed in May 2021,” said the City.
Home Affairs spokesperson Siyabulela Qoza said the department’s stance on the matter had not changed and referred to statements made by the Minister Aaron Motsoaledi earlier this year.
Motsoaledi said in his speech in April, a decision was taken that the United Nations Human Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) offer will be given a chance to unfold for only two weeks starting from April 15.
He said, whoever chooses to stay after this period will be on their own as the government departments and agencies that are providing services will fold their activities after the expiry of this two-week period.
“Let me say to you, for your broader understanding, that the City of Cape Town had already taken the decision to remove the tents and ablution facilities on 15 April 2021. This, they were intending to do because they have received a very scathing report from the Auditor-General SA about their expenditure in offering services there,” said Motsoaledi.