Daily strife of refugees

GAUTENG lawmaker Molebatsi Bopape states the obvious when she says the Central Methodist Church in downtown Johannesburg is "not suitable for human beings to live in".

GAUTENG lawmaker Molebatsi Bopape states the obvious when she says the Central Methodist Church in downtown Johannesburg is "not suitable for human beings to live in".

Churches are places of worship where the faithful gather at least once a week to engage with their maker. They will always be found wanting when judged by their suitability for human settlement.

Instead of mouthing platitudes, Bopape should rather say what it is that she and her fellow lawmakers plan to do with the thousands of refugees who, because of the city and provincial governments' dragging of feet, still find themselves without accommodation that would satisfy Bopape's standards.

Seeing that she is as close to power as she is, she should ask the two governments why they have not kept their word to provide the accommodation they had claimed to have identified and made ready for the Methodist church squatters.

While at it, she might ask her colleagues at the national legislature if there are any plans to reopen the Refugee Reception Office in Johannesburg that has been closed to new applicants since 2005 despite high court orders to reopen it.

Because of the closure, applicants there have to go to the Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria, where many refugees are forced daily to sleep in queues for residence permits.

Casting aspersions on Bishop Paul Verryn's motives for why people live in his church is to set off a red herring. Not even this man of God can keep 3000 people in squalid conditions against their will.

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