City to enforce by-laws in Greenmarket Square after week of refugee screenings
Refugees and asylum seekers have been living in and around the Central Methodist Church for more than three months after they were forcibly removed from outside the United Nations offices in late October.
The court order effectively prevents them from sleeping, washing, cooking, lighting fires, and conducting other activities on the sidewalks of Greenmarket Square.
The refugees inside the church, however, fall outside the jurisdiction of the City of Cape Town and won't be subject to enforcement.
The municipality will have to wait a week before enforcing its by-laws in the public space near the church.
It must first find a venue where for seven days, Home Affairs can conduct status verification and other administrative matters.
The City's JP Smith says enforcement will commence thereafter, should the foreign nationals living on the sidewalks refuse social reintegration services offered by the metro.
We will resume with applying our by-laws for those who do not take up reintegration options or comply.JP Smith, Mayoral committee member - Safety and security at City of Cape Town
The by-laws do now apply, but first, we must proceed within a period of seven days to undertake a screening exercise where the Department of Home Affairs can check who is legally here and what the status of each person is.JP Smith, Mayoral committee member - Safety and security at City of Cape Town
The City has already identified a municipal hall where verifications and screenings can be conducted, Smith adds.
Smith advises that the management of the church will have to take its own decision on how to proceed regarding the occupants inside the church.
The court order doesn't apply to the people inside the church. That is private property and the business of the Methodist Church.JP Smith, Mayoral committee member - Safety and security at City of Cape Town
He says city officials will treat the situation as sensitively as they can.
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