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CoCT granted interim order to remove foreign nationals from church

The court said that the City of Cape Town had seven days until it could enforce its by-laws against foreign nationals living around the church.

Foreign nationals in the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town on 17 February await the ruling that will decide if they will be removed from the Methodist Church in Greenmarket Square. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The City of Cape Town has been given the green light to ensure that foreign nationals are removed from a church in the CBD.

The Western Cape High Court has granted an interim order which allows the municipality to enforce by-laws.

The metro had argued that the hundreds of men, women and children living at the Methodist chapel off Greenmarket Square since October were transgressing several regulations.

The foreigners were offered refuge at the church after they were forcibly removed from outside the UN Refugee Agency offices where they were protesting in demand of assistance to leave the country and escape alleged xenophobia.

Since then, they have been refusing to leave amid several attempts by various organisations to find an amicable solution.

Due to a legal challenge of certain by-laws, the city needed the court’s permission to take the necessary action to resolve the stand-off.

The municipality had argued that the foreign nationals were transgressing its public spaces regulations which ban cooking, fires and washing on the streets.

The metro also stated that the occupation of the church had a negative impact on businesses, tourism and the hospitality industry.

The Western Cape High Court has now ruled that the city may enforce its by-laws from today.

However, the municipality will first have to find a venue where for seven days, Home Affairs can conduct verification and other administrative matters.

The city is also expected to provide transport, while the department has been instructed to deploy officials.