Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Soetwater stretched to capacity and officially closed

By Ilhaam Hoosain
28 May 2008


Due to the recent xenophobic violence in the Western Cape, more than 20 000 people are without homes.

Four displaced camps have been set up in Silverstroom in Atlantis, Soetwater in Kommetjie, Harmony Park in Strand, and Youngsfield Military Base near Kenilworth. Collectively 8000 people can be accommodated in all the camps.

On Tuesday evening councillor Nicky Holden made an urgent announcement exclusively to Bush Radio at the Soetwater camp (where approximately 3000 people are staying) saying that the camp has officially closed and no more people will be allowed through the gates.

“Our volunteers who are doing the food, including our muslim volunteers who are doing the halaal food, are absolutely stretched to their capabilities.

“They have come to us now and they have said that they are at maximum supply.

“I have taken a decision that the camp is closed. There are to many people here already. We cannot cater for them and we cannot house them,” says Holden.

She goes onto say that they are expecting very bad weather and they don’t know how those tents are going to stand.

“What I have agreed with the people there is that everybody inside we will register , those people outside we will also register,” says Holden.

She adds that she had asked the foreign nationals to send messages to their friends. “Do not come here, do not come,” she says many of the people are coming from camps where they where housed.

That is the message that she wants to get out. She adds that they must stay where they are and that their problem with the United Nations is not their problem.

“We are here just to feed and to assist and they are making that job impossible,” exclaims Holden.
Meanwhile, the civil society organisations are working on health and human rights for all people living in South Africa.

They are saddened and outraged by such violence. They say that they will stand by all the foreign nationals that were displaced and will make an effort to help in every way they can. They also say that they believe that it is a human right to seek employment, health services, protection and refuge in South Africa.

“We believe that you have contributed to South Africa and must continue to contribute. We want you to be part of all our communities in South Africa.

“Since this crisis started, about 40 relief centres and shelters have been set up in the areas surrounding Cape Town. We have been doing all we can to supply people with shelter, transport, food, water, blankets, and sanitary supplies. We will continue to make sure you get help,” says the Civil Society.
Pictures: Ilhaam Hoosain and Humphrey Brydon

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