●Cape Town: Soetwater refugee camp – told to get on busses or tents would be removed!

11Jun08


[update 12.6.08]

Zelda Holtzman, social transformation consultant in the Dept of the Premier, demanded to speak to refugee leaders individually at the main gate, and, when they refused and asked to meet collectively with her, said “If you do not meet with me one by one, I will take away all the tents, all the food, all the medicine and leave you on the beach, and you can stay there.” An attempt was made to take down one tent, but soon abandoned. The 12 buses left empty….

[extract from press release]

●Divide and rule?!
Zelda Holtzman, did do the above. It was confirmed by a reliable source that this actually happened.
Can you imagine being talked to like this?
It might curb ones sense of trust in the Premier’s intentions!
How does someone like this get hired to do such a difficult and delicate job? It looks like they lost the plot.
Holtzman……you’re fired!

Things are very bad in Soetwater

The refugees are traumatised already and they are further traumatised and threatened by this utterly unacceptable behaviour of Holtzman
The refugees have been thrown together – all strangers to each other
They are miles away from any where – living in tents in this bitter cold & strong winds
Soetwater is right on the Atlantic coast – there is nothing between them and South America! It is between Nordhoek and Kommetjie, past Masipumelele

●PRESS RELEASE [11th June 08]

Last night, for the second consecutive evening, the provincial government sent buses escorted by a large contingent of armed police to Soetwater and expected people to get on them without revealing their proposed destination.

Zelda Holtzman, social transformation consultant in the Dept of the Premier, demanded to speak to refugee leaders individually at the main gate, and, when they refused and asked to meet collectively with her, said “If you do not meet with me one by one, I will take away all the tents, all the food, all the medicine and leave you on the beach, and you can stay there.” An attempt was made to take down one tent, but soon abandoned. The 12 buses left empty.

Some refugees had earlier refused the evening meal delivered to the camp, as it was put on the buses. When the buses left, Imam Osman, with agreement of all the leaders, went and fetched food from main gate (3km from camp) in two shifts using bakkies. Leaders then distributed food to each tent in the upper and lower camps in a peaceful and orderly manner.

The full Refugee Leadership Committee (RLC) from upper and lower camps met together with witnesses from camp management in the late evening. They decided they need support with negotiations, and have officially invited the Far South Peninsula Community Forum (comprising representatives of volunteers, NGOs, civil society and local ward councillors) to assist them in opening a dialogue with the government.

The FSPCF has been striving to provide a constructive framework for the refugees’ concerns to be addressed in a non-political manner, where independent bodies and volunteers who have gained the trust of the RLC over the last two and a half weeks on the ground can act as intermediaries in a mutually respectful process.

The events of the evening were all filmed by an independent film company that supplies documentaries to UK’s Channel 4 and BBC.

Call RLC leader Pastor Alain Mwamba 083 520 7741 for more information.
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