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Arrest of CT refugee leader welcomed by some foreign nationals

The man's been charged with eight cases of assault, five of which are assault with the intention to cause grievous bodily harm.

Police attend to a dispute involving refugees and foreign nationals at the Methodist Church in Greenmarket Square in Cape Town on 29 December 2019. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Some foreigners at Cape Town's Central Methodist Church have welcomed the arrest of a rival leader.

On Wednesday, police arrested JP Balous at the church which has been inhabited by refugees and asylum seekers since October.

He's been charged with eight cases of assault, five of which are assault with the intention to cause grievous bodily harm.

Tension at the Methodist Church in the city centre reached a new high this week following violence which escalated last Sunday.

Chaos ensued following a disagreement about whether a church service would be held, in addition to one of the refugee leaders being asked to step down.

Some foreigners complained that they had been assaulted by the leader.

Another leader, Papy Sukami, said that the group he represented welcomed the arrest.

He said that the group could now look forward to what the new year would bring.

"The arrest is a relief. People are really happy now, so we can celebrate our new year."

Balous will appear in the Cape Town Magistrates' Court on Friday.

On Monday, the City of Cape Town, along with the Department of Home Affairs and other stakeholders, will reconvene to discuss reintegration and the way forward.

The Human Rights Commission's Chris Nissen: "The issue about resettlement is a dead issue at the moment, so we are talking about safer reintegration into the communities where the asylum seekers came from and secondly also an assessment on those who are really destitute and what the alternative recommendations are for them."