Irate foreign nationals who took refuge at the Central Methodist Mission Church in Cape Town, fearing xenophobic attacks, attacked faith leaders on Friday.
Chaos erupted at the church in the morning while faith leaders were announcing plans for relocation, repatriation and reintegration of the foreigners.
More than 200 refugees have been living in the church for weeks after police moved them from a makeshift camp outside the premises of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) in the CBD.
Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, who was caught up in the fracas, confirmed the incident, but pleaded for sympathy and understanding.
“One doesn’t expect violence to break out at a sanctuary, but when I put on my psychology hat, this is what we call termination anxiety. We are dealing with a human issue here, a desperate situation,” he told TimesLIVE.
“We were telling them something they didn’t want to hear, so the reaction is somewhat justifiable,” said Makgoba.