'Home Affairs needs to come to the party to address refugees' concerns'

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says it will engage with various role-players following the removal of refugees from the Cape Town CBD on Wednesday.

About 100 people were arrested and later released when the police and law enforcement moved in on hundreds of people who'd been camping outside the UN Refugee Agency offices.

SAHRC Western Cape commissioner Chris Nissen tells Refilwe Moloto that there needs to be a sustainable solution to the problem faced by the foreign nationals, who want help leaving South Africa in fear of further xenophobic attacks.

No charges were pressed against them. The court order was not an eviction order but a trespassing order which was executed by the sheriff of the court with Saps in support.

Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - SAHRC

RELATED: 'UN needs to set up camp where refugees removed from CBD can be looked after'

Part of the problem hearing from people that are here, is the treatment that they are getting from Home Affairs around documentation and having to travel to Pretoria to renew their papers.

Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - SAHRC

Yesterday, Home Affairs was supposed to come out and deal with documentation and they never turned up. When we called them they said their systems were offline.

Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - SAHRC

Nissen believes xenophobia is not as widespread as people would like to believe.

He also warned against the spreading of messages that there are planes ready to take foreign nationals out of South Africa.

RELATED: 'They gave them a countdown, then they moved in and fired rubber bullets'

There are mixed messages being sent by whoever is involved to say 'please come there is a plane waiting we are going to Canada, Australia and US'. That is just not possible because there are protocols involved from government to government.

Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - SAHRC

We must also understand that a number of these refugees are coming from countries where they were prosecuted and they can't go back.

Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - SAHRC

He says both South Africans and foreign nationals need to be realistic about the issues at hand.

We need to be realistic, the people can't stay here at Green Market Square, they can't stay in the church. They too need to understand there are some realistic issues that we need to deal with.

Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - SAHRC

South Africa does not have camps, the country took that decision a long time ago.

Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - SAHRC

Listen to the full interview below:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 'Home Affairs needs to come to the party to address refugees' concerns'


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