●Cape Town: Soetwater camp – last night, buses with a police escort, turn up to ‘remove’ refugees – committee upset

10Jun08


“Provincial government’s handling of the Soetwater crisis following last night’s clumsy attempt by officials to move residents of the lower camp”.
If it’s true, was a classic botch up!
It is possible that the police were called to come to sort out trouble with in the camp – that the busses were for those who didn’t feel safe.

The press release says there was no prior warning or discussion with the committee about this event taking place – It’s hard to believe that they would be so stupid. If they didn’t let anyone know then this is a classic example of the saying that goes: The lights are on but no one is in, The switch is on but no light bulb, Subtle as a well-thrown brick. An intellect rivalled only by garden tools. A teabag short of a T pot. .[www.corsinet.com]

●PRESS RELEASE
The communities of the Far South Peninsula have joined in condemning the provincial government’s handling of the Soetwater crisis following last night’s clumsy attempt by officials to move residents of the lower camp. While the intent may have been to put an end to the intimidation of residents of the lower camp by aggressive elements in the upper camp, the manner in which it was attempted was most ill-advised.

“The way to relieve intimidation is not with yet more intimidation” said ward councillor Felicity Purchase, who with ward councillor Nicki Holderness, was called to the site by 9pm. “Neither refugee leaders, camp management or city officials were informed of this decision. To send buses escorted by a large contingent of police with guns into the camp unannounced, in the dark, after the panic and upset of recent days, could have been disastrous.” Only 23 people were willing to leave to an unspecified destination, but then refused to get off the bus when it took them to Samora Machel, and had to be taken to the Chrysalis academy in Tokai.

At an extraordinary meeting of the Far South Peninsula Community Forum, on Sunday evening, volunteers and officials who have been working at the Soetwater camp for the last 2 weeks, representatives of community organisations of the south peninsula, and representatives of the Refugee Leadership Committee (RLC) agreed to work together towards a peaceful solution.

Local ward councillor Nicki Holderness said “The Far South community wants a process that restores the dignity to people who have been violated, calms the fears of both the refugees and the surrounding communities, and that will have the support of local government. The Soetwater refugee situation is a complex one that must be developed sensitively, with dialogue involving all stakeholders including the refugees, the volunteers, local civic organisations and NGOs, camp management, local elected officials and municipal officials.”

The process continued on Monday, at a bosberaad at the Art of Living farm in Noordhoek, where stakeholders met again to plan a way forward that could be embraced by all. “The events of last night make the joint dialogue process more vital than ever” said Holderness.

Issued by: Nicki Holderness, ward 61 councillor : Felicity Purchase, ward 69 councillor : Simon Liell-Cock, Chair of the Far South Peninsula Community Forum (civic, business, environmental and welfare)

The Ubuntu Coalition: eMzantsi Carnival project : Art of Living Foundation : Soetwater volunteers : Representatives of the Fish Hoek valley, Masiphumelele and Ocean View communities : The Soetwater Refugee Leadership Committee (RLC) lower camp
Sent: Tuesday, June 10, 2008 8:15 AM : Subject: Far South community press release



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