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CoCT to conclude verification process of foreign nationals living at church

Mayco member for Safety and Security JP Smith said that many refugees participated in the screening process and said that the verification period expired today.

Foreign nationals in their makeshift shelters outside the Central Methodist Mission Church in Greenmarket Square in Cape Town. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The City of Cape Town will on Friday conclude the verification of foreign nationals living in and around the Methodist Church in the CBD.

Hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers have found sanctuary at the church since October last year.

Last week, the Western Cape High Court granted an order allowing the city to enforce its by-laws. That means that within seven days of the order, the city can move the refugees, by force if necessary.

But the municipality also instructed it to provide transport and a venue where Home Affairs could verify and document the foreigners.

Just over a week has passed since refugees were in court and some were still camped out on the pavements around the Central Methodist Church on Greenmarket Square.

Since then, the foreigners have been transported to Salt River Hall where Home Affairs officials were verifying their identities and nationalities.

Mayco member for Safety and Security JP Smith said that many refugees participated in the screening process and said that the verification period expired today.

"The city thereafter able to apply its by-laws as the court ordered, we will then have complied with the requirements of the court."

Meanwhile, 11 people have been arrested by the department relating to false or forged immigration documentation.