Hours after the refugees living around the Methodist church on Cape Town’s Greenmarket Square were removed, they were involved in another stand-off with police – this time at St Mary’s Catholic Church opposite Parliament.
Many moved their belongings to the Catholic Church a few blocks away when police and the City’s Law Enforcement unit swooped to enforce a court order at the Methodist church. The court order allowed the City to enforce its by-laws, which prevent sleeping, cooking and washing on pavements.
But no sooner had about 200 refugees moved into the Catholic church’s garden, than they were surrounded by authorities again.
Police entered the garden in a wall of shields and pushed them to Roeland Street.
Bottles, chairs and buckets were thrown at police as they did this.
Children were crying as their parents stood around confused in Roeland Street about where they were going to go.
“I don’t have anywhere to go,” shouted a man holding a baby after the group moved to the Catholic church.
“To make your job easy, I can put myself in your van,” said one man. He said in prison he would at least have food, water and somewhere to shower.
He reiterated the view of many who had lived at the Methodist church since October 2019 that foreign nationals felt unsafe.
Hundreds of police and city Law Enforcement officials surrounded the Catholic church and police cars lined the street.
Across the street, a protest over child murders added to the tension.
“I don’t know what to do now,” said one man on condition of anonymity, inside the church’s gates.
Outside the Methodist church, where the refugees had resided for the past few months, cleaning services were scrubbing down the cobbles of Greenmarket Square and tossing rubbish into rubbish trucks.
The by-law enforcement court order excludes those inside the Methodist church.
They were seen peering through the glass of the locked doors.