Pretoria residents ask court to order removal of refugees

05 November 2019 - 15:48 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
Refugees, asylum seekers and migrants camp outside the UNHCR office in Pretoria. The makeshift camp has been there for over four weeks.
Refugees, asylum seekers and migrants camp outside the UNHCR office in Pretoria. The makeshift camp has been there for over four weeks.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

Pretoria residents want the high court to remove refugees from their residential areas.

An urgent application by residents of Brooklyn and Waterkloof against the hundreds of refugees camping outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR) is set for further argument on Wednesday.

Represented by the Brooklyn and Eastern Areas Citizens Association and Waterkloof Homeowners Association, the residents approached the Pretoria high court to have the refugees removed.

As the refugees beg the commission to send them to other countries, the residents are complaining that they are causing a nuisance by defecating, urinating and undressing in the public space.

Among their concerns are that the refugees are causing unpleasant and offensive smells, dumping, making fires and committing other acts that could detrimentally affect the health of the residents.

Nanette Kabemba bathes her son next to their tent set up outside the UNHCR office in Pretoria.
Nanette Kabemba bathes her son next to their tent set up outside the UNHCR office in Pretoria.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

The matter was argued partially on Tuesday. The final arguments are expected to be heard on Wednesday before a judgment is passed.

John Kashalo, who has lived in SA since 2008, fled to Pretoria three weeks ago after he was attacked in his Bloemfontein hair salon.

"They pulled me into the street, put a tyre over my neck, poured petrol on me and were trying to set me alight when a man with a gun chased them off," he told the Sunday Times.

"I can't go back to my home in the Congo, but I can't live here any more either. I want to live somewhere where my family and I are safe."

On October 9, the UNHCR said in a statement that it acknowledged the issues being raised by the refugees - including employment and self-reliance, documentation and personal security concerns.

“UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is working closely with SA authorities to continue providing protection through the issuance of appropriate identity documentation to facilitate access to health care, education and employment opportunities for all refugees and asylum seekers.”


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