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Business worried about influx of refugees

The Chamber of Commerce hopes authorities will be able to manage the influx of refugees to the city foreshore.

Refugees marched to Parliament and handed over a memorandum listing their demands to a representative of the speaker on 20 June 2012. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Cape Chamber of Commerce hopes authorities will be able to deal with the influx of refugees to the city foreshore.

Last week, Home Affairs closed the controversial Maitland Refugee Reception Centre.

Starting on Monday Customs House and the Home Affairs office in the Cape Town central business district will assist foreigners to renew their permits. But first time asylum seekers will have to travel to other provinces for help.

The Cape Chamber's Gordon Metter says the relocation could be problematic.

"We're very concerned. Previously when the refugee centre was on the foreshore it led to all sorts of problems for business in the area. Last time we found people camping on the streets during the night."

Meanwhile, the ANC has called for the regulation of foreign owned spaza shops in townships.

The party said it was concerned the majority of the province's spaza shops were owned, managed and staffed by foreigners, and that locals were "losing out".

In 2011, foreign shop owners were reportedly receiving threatening letters from locals, telling them to close their businesses.

Local shop owners accused Somali nationals of killing their businesses by lowering prices in their stores.