WATCH | Police officer injured as refugees clash with law enforcement
About 200 refugees spent the night in a park on the outskirts of the Cape Town CBD after being removed from Greenmarket Square by law enforcement officials on Sunday.
The officers lined up again on Monday morning to enforce the court order granted to the city to prevent the group from relocating anywhere in the central business district.
Clashes broke out between law enforcement and refugees when they refused to move out of the park.
One refugee was arrested by police while a law enforcement officer injured her elbow in the fray.
The refugees, who are demanding relocation to other countries, citing fears for their safety in SA, have been protesting for months — first outside the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in St Georges Mall and then outside the Methodist church on Greenmarket Square.
The UNHCR had advised previously there was no legal possibility of the refugees being relocated to another country, as demanded, while the city had offered them the opportunity to reintegrate into the communities from where they came prior to the protest action in the CBD.
The city's JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, said in a statement the city was not insensitive to the plight of the refugees “but we simply cannot allow the situation to carry on unchecked as it has had a major impact on surrounding businesses, including the traders on Greenmarket Square”.
Emergency shelter elsewhere would not be provided to the group, said Smith, “given the great need that exists among South Africans, not to mention the precedent that it would set”.
“We appeal to the refugees to return to the homes they vacated to join the initial occupation of St George’s Mall. It is not legally or practically possible for the city to supply accommodation and no other sphere of government has agreed to supply such either.”