Hundreds of foreign nationals who were removed from Waldorf Arcade have sought refuge in Cape Town’s Central Methodist Church.
Protesters had been staging a sit-in outside UN offices since October 8. They wanted to be evacuated from South Africa following incidents of xenophobia and because they felt targeted as foreigners.
Foreign nationals who managed to escape arrest moved in to the church building on Greenmarket Square.
On Wednesday, they carried their blankets, mattresses and bags inside and up the church’s steps and within an hour, every pew in the church was taken up.
The church’s aisles also became instant bedrooms, and mothers sat and fed their children after a chaotic morning.
The Methodist Church’s Reverend Alan Storey, calmly helped with coordinating arrivals at the church on Wednesday.
The SA Human Rights Commission’s Reverend Chris Nissen, has in the mean time visited the women and children detained at the Cape Town Central police station.
40 children were taken away from the scene by police to the police station. By Wednesday afternoon it is understood there were two children still to be reunited with their mothers.
According to the Western Cape police at least 100 people had been arrested in an action supported by a court order obtained by the owner of the building through which the arcade runs.
A statement issued by, Brigadier Novela Potelwa revealed that the court order was granted on October 18 at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court after the landlord made an application to evict the group.
“The [SA Police Service] in the Western Cape is aware of earlier efforts to engage the group facilitated by role players such as the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) to resolve the impasse in an amicable manner. Unfortunately the attempts yielded no positive result.”