Foreign nationals living at govt camp in CT reject deportation plans

The Home Affairs Department said that it had started the process of deporting 20 foreign nationals who were protesting at the church in Cape Town's CBD in October last year.

Foreign nationals living at a government camp in Bellville have yet again raised concerns over poor living conditions. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Foreign nationals living at a government camp in Bellville said that they did not want to be deported and insisted that they wanted to be resettled.

The Home Affairs Department said that it had started the process of deporting 20 foreign nationals who were protesting at the church in Cape Town's CBD in October last year.

They wanted the UNHCR to assist them to leave the country, but not to their countries of origin, because of xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

In April, they were moved to Paint City in Bellville for the duration of the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Home Affairs Department said that the affected foreign nationals had been transferred to the Lindela Repatriation Centre for deportation.

But community leader Hafiz Mohammed said that deportation was not the solution.

"We are not going to give up until we leave South Africa. We need protection from the UNHCR and we would like to send a message to UNHCR - we need help from them."

He said that he was concerned about the poor living conditions at the site.

At this camp, more than 600 people - barely metres apart – were separated only by cardboard boxes.

Now the toilets and cleaning facilities have been removed for four days and Mohammed said that this was unacceptable.

"At the moment we have a problem with the toilets and shower because they have taken them away."

Last month, Parliament's Home Affairs Committee visited the site and determined that the conditions were abysmal, with no social distancing and no adherence to lockdown regulations.

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