Greenmarket Square traders ask government to address refugee situation

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They also noted that the women traders do not feel safe coming to work. The traders lastly acknowledged the “failure of protest leaders and education authorities to ensure that children enrolled in school attend”.

They said the consequences of these actions have caused a third of their traders to cease their businesses and those who have stayed have suffered a disruption in business, affecting their ability to pay their rent on time and in full.

The statement continues: “Our trade has been disrupted because of the failure of the state that has caused a legitimate protest with an impossible demand.”

Rev Alan Storey of the Central Methodist Mission wrote a statement on the church’s website, saying: “I also share the concern of the many traders in the area who are experiencing a loss in business, especially the traders on Greenmarket Square itself. This is another reason why a speedy solution [must] be found. These are people who themselves can least afford any loss of trade.”

The Greenmarket Traders Association asked that their rent be waived until the protest has ended, that government approach the protest leaders to ensure all bylaws are followed, to negotiate with the protest leaders to vacate the church and surrounding areas, or alternatively order an eviction with alternative accommodation for those most in need.

Greg Wagner, spokesperson for the mayor, told GroundUp, “The mayor has received the memorandum, and has noted that some of the requests fall outside of the city’s mandate. Where the requests relate to services provided by the city, the mayor has asked that these be addressed accordingly.”

A meeting was held on Monday November 11 between the SAHRC, DHA, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the leadership of the refugees living in the church.

They proposed the following:

  • The DHA has agreed to facilitate and replace documentation that was lost in the protest, but the refugee leadership must provide a list of names of those missing documents. They will consider extending the deadline on permits in terms of the review of refugee status.

  • The SAHRC will follow up with the premier’s office to release possessions confiscated by police during the October 30 eviction of the refugees from Waldorf Square.

  • If the refugees and asylum seekers do not have papers or wish to leave the country voluntarily (by walking to Namibia/Malawi), the SAHRC will engage with the relevant authorities for safe passage.

The protest leaders turned down all offers except for assistance walking to Namibia and Malawi.

DHA spokesperson David Hlabane and SAHRC spokesperson Gushwell Brooks could not be reached for comment before publication.


  • This article was originally published by GroundUp

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