Refugees currently accommodated at a temporary site, Paint City, in Bellville, say they fear for their lives following threats from the City’s department of transport security guards and taxi operators who demanded they remove a speed fence keeping them apart.
IOL quoted the group’s leader Caroline Hkajira as saying: “A truck showed up this morning (Tuesday, May 3) out of the blue, to take down the fence.
“They said the City had sent them to remove it. We didn’t understand, so we tried to call the City, but could not get through to anyone.
“All this while our lives and families were being threatened by the people standing on the side of the taxis. They said they would bomb us and shoot us.”
Paint City is at the Bellville Public Transport Interchange (PTI), an area which Mayco Member for Transport Felicity Purchase reportedly said had always been the PTI holding area for minibus-taxi operators.
The refugees, who are currently accommodated at this site and the other one, Wingfield, near Goodwood, had initially settled in and around Green Market Square after they were forcibly moved from outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in Waldorf Square in October 2019 where they were conducting a sit-in protest.
They were removed to Paint City and Wingfield camps during the hard lockdown last year.
Last month, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi gave them until May 30 to either voluntarily repatriate to their counties of origin or reintegrate into local communities.
However, on the day, the department issued a statement saying the refugees could stay while officials continued processing their documents.
Reports indicated that the department had given immigration and UNHCR officials time to verify the status of the refugees.