Violence erupted in Cape Town today when police chased refugees in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Cape Town CBD. At least 100 people have been arrested.
Hundreds of foreign nationals have been campaigning for almost three weeks outside the offices of the UNHCR in Brooklyn east of Pretoria and the Waldorf Arcade in downtown Cape Town.
These people want the UN to relocate them because they feel unsafe in South Africa due to increasing xenophobic attacks against them and also dissatisfied with recent xenophobic attacks. Most of this group of foreign nationals are asylum seekers who were unable to obtain refugee status.
According to Mienke-Mari Steytler, Amnesty International South Africa’s media officer, the Cape Town metro police started chasing and arresting refugees on Wednesday afternoon, after the refugees allegedly began to riot. Western Cape police said they arrested 100 people on Wednesday for refusing to leave the offices. A court order has already been obtained on October 18 to remove the 300 refugees from the offices.
Adrian Roos, DA MP for Home Affairs, says stakeholders met with the group last Monday and that home affairs has agreed to liaise with each individual separately. “However, leaders of the group reacted aggressively to this,” says Roos.