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Court action could impact future of foreign nationals living in CT church

Hundreds of men, women and children have been living in and around the Methodist chapel off Green Market Square since October after they were removed from outside the UN Refugee Agency offices.

Foreign nationals are seen at the Greenmarket Square in the Cape Town CBD on 5 November 2019. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The City of Cape Town returns to court this week in a bid to obtain an order which could impact the future of foreigners occupying a church.

Hundreds of men, women and children have been living in and around the Methodist chapel off Greenmarket Square since October after they were removed from outside the UN Refugee Agency offices.

On Tuesday, the city will hear whether the court will allow it to enforce a by-law, which is necessary because the legislation is being challenged in another court matter.

Mayco member for Safety and Security JP Smith said the occupation of the church and the surrounding area had resulted in numerous transgressions of the city’s by-laws.

There are also claims of criminal activity and the occupation has had a significant impact on businesses and the hospitality industry.

Smith said the city could not give the foreigners the emergency housing they had asked for. Smith said the group also rejected the city’s proposal of reintegration.

There is also a move to get the Department of Home Affairs to verify the people living in the church. The city said an operational plan was needed for this process.

Smith explained: “The planners are awaiting sign-off from SAPS. The delay in response from SAPS is being addressed by Premier Aland Winde and Mayor Dan Plato.”

Smith added the city was implementing safety measures at Greenmarket Square to alleviate the anxiety expressed by informal traders, businesses and residents.

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