Tshwane Asylum Seekers Risk Everything to Defy Court Order
Scores of refugees have been camped outside the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in Tshwane for over four years. Despite a court ruling for their eviction, they have refused to leave the area, per SowetanLIVE. The high court in Pretoria recently ordered over 200 asylum seekers, who had constructed makeshift structures outside the UNHCR, to take buses to the Lindela repatriation centre in Krugersdorp for six months. However, the refugees have refused to vacate the pavement, their home, since 2019.
Most refugees are from the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with others from Burundi, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan, having escaped their countries of origin due to socio-political tensions. They have been demanding transport to a third country. Some were part of the Pretoria UNHCR protest in 2019 over xenophobia in South Africa.
Also read: SA Lawyer Warns of Catastrophic Consequences for Zimbabwean Exemption Permit Holders
Per the court order, the refugees should have vacated the area by yesterday. However, they were still present in the afternoon, and the police looked on without taking action. The Sowetan team last saw the refugees gathering around a fire to prepare supper when the team left the area.
Johnny Lowoso, a refugee from the DRC, has been living out on the streets since 2021. His wife and two children joined him in 2022. He stated the living conditions at Lindela were dire, and medical care was not good. Most want to move to a country where they will be safe from xenophobia. Still, they are not interested in being relocated to the United States or Europe. According to Lowoso, returning home is not an option as the situation is still dangerous.
The Department of Home Affairs and the UNHCR have told the refugees in the past that their demand for transport to another country is unrealistic. However, officials transported the refugees to Lindela after the Department and the UNHCR signed an agreement in November 2019.
Picture: Facebook / JanaMarxJournalist