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Foreign nationals living in CT church to be accommodated during lockdown

The men, women, and children have been camping in the city since October after they were removed from outside the UN Refugee Agency offices where they were demanding assistance to leave the country due to xenophobia.

FILE: The foreign nationals, among them refugees, had been staging a sit-in at the Methodist Church in the Cape Town CBD and demanding they be helped to leave South Africa. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

CAPE TOWN - As South Africans prepare for a nationwide lockdown to help stop the spread of COVID-19, authorities are now urgently looking for space to house hundreds of foreigners living at a church in Cape Town's CBD and outside a police station.

The men, women, and children have been camping in the city since October after they were removed from outside the UN Refugee Agency offices where they were demanding assistance to leave the country due to xenophobia.

On Wednesday, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi reiterated that the foreigners needed to reintegrate into the societies they came from or face repatriation.

The Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town said the foreigners living in the church and those camping outside the police station would be moved to an area identified by national government.

Premier Alan Winde said they were busy with the final paperwork.

“Basically, what it means is that water and sewerage facilities will be phased out sufficiently to reduce the risk of COVID-19 from spreading,” Winde said.

Mayco member for Safety and Security JP Smith said they were hoping to get this done very soon.

“Land was identified and the Department of Public Works is facilitating access and they will be relocated,” he said.

The move involved more than 500 people.

WATCH: SA on lockdown: Here’s what you need to know

To track the latest developments around the coronavirus both in South Africa and abroad, click on this live status report from Strategix.