Cape Town mayor Dan Plato hits back at national government over refugees

06 April 2020 - 16:35
By Aphiwe Deklerk
Cape Town mayor Dan Plato is not taking criticism from national government lying down.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander Cape Town mayor Dan Plato is not taking criticism from national government lying down.

Cape Town mayor Dan Plato says he is disappointed by his national government counterparts after a public spat over the relocation of refugees in the city.

This after a joint statement by public works minister Patricia de Lille and home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi was issued, placing the blame squarely on the city regarding the controversial relocation of 500 refugees who had occupied the Cape Town CBD.

“In this time of crisis, we all need to work together to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The number one priority for all spheres of government must be to complete the relocation operations as soon as possible. City teams are working around the clock on our responsibilities in this regard,” said Plato.

The two spheres of government engaged in a public spat which started on Sunday when Plato issued a statement criticising the removal of the group by the police to a site he said was not fully compliant with the state of disaster instituted by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In their statement on Monday morning, the two ministers said the city kept rejecting possible relocation sites for “unknown reasons”.

They took a swipe at Plato and his officials, alleging that they were peddling untrue statements, an act which they said “compelled us to take an unusual step” to issue the joint press statement.

“Thus far we have exercised restraint in the face of extreme provocative press statements attributed to the officials of the City of Cape Town,” read the statement.

The ministers blamed a delay over the relocation of the group on the city, saying Cape Town had failed to enforce a court order to remove them.

“In all instances, the City of Cape Town failed to enforce its bylaws even after being ordered to do so by the court. It is this dragging of feet by the City of Cape Town that led to the hearing by the portfolio committee on home affairs on March 10 2020,” read the statement.

But Plato said he stood by his earlier statements on the matter.

“I have full faith in the city’s officials, senior management and the mayoral committee, who are working non-stop during this pandemic to ensure service delivery continues for the people of Cape Town.

“I will continue to work closely with the national and provincial governments to ensure that we collaborate wherever possible to maximise the services we are delivering,” said Plato.

He said the city had observed and carried out its services “100% in line with the Covid-19 regulations”.