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Foreign nationals give own timeframe to leave CT church

The hundreds of men, women and children have been occupying the Methodist Chapel off Greenmarket Square since October after they were forcefully removed from outside the UN Refugee Agency Offices.

Community leader JP Balous addresses a media briefing over the plight of the foreign nationals at the Methodist Chapel off Greenmarket Square in Cape Town on 14 January 2020. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Refugees living in a church in Cape Town said that they wanted to leave within two weeks.

The hundreds of men, women and children have been occupying the Methodist Chapel off Greenmarket Square since October after they were forcefully removed from outside the UN Refugee Agency Offices.

Community leader JP Balous - who is out on bail and is charged with assault and robbery - addressed the group on Tuesday afternoon.

Balous spoke to a group of his supporters sitting in the pews of the church this afternoon.

He dismissed accusations of assault and sexual assault and said that he would continue the fight.

"Let people accuse me of any sort of situation but I promise you, they will never find me in those situations. They will use every kind of accusation in order to nail me down."

The once united group has been split into two factions after violence broke out following a dispute about two weeks ago.

Balous said that they were hard at work trying to leave the church.

"The next step is that we are planning to leave this place fairly soon, if possible, not later than two weeks."

The occupation of the church has had a negative impact on tourism and businesses around Greenmarket Square with the foreign nationals having effectively taken over the church.