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Court hears CoCT has no accommodation for 600 foreign nationals living at church

The City of Cape Town, the Department of Home Affairs and the South African Police Service were represented in the High Court on Friday.

Foreign nationals seen in the crowd at the Western Cape High Court on 13 December 2019. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The City of Cape Town on Friday told the Western Cape High Court there was no alternative accommodation for refugees living at a church in the CBD.

The City of Cape Town, the Department of Home Affairs and the South African Police Service were represented in the High Court on Friday.

The court was packed with more than 200 refugees. Refugee activist JP Balous represented the foreign nationals.

This week, two meetings were held to find an amicable solution, but the City of Cape Town indicated they had reached a deadlock.

The matter of alternative accommodation was discussed, as hundreds of refugees have been living in and outside a Methodist chapel off Greenmarket Square since October.

The Department of Home Affairs said they were ready to do the verification process but needed suitable accommodation.

The city argued it was not an emergency situation, as it was not a case of eviction or homelessness.

After an adjournment, the city indicated it simply did not have accommodation for 600 people.

The judge expressed dismay that none of the meetings arrived at a solution.

The matter has been postponed to January so that the refugees can file responding affidavits regarding harassment and intimidation.