Pretoria: The KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government and eThekwini Metro have expressed serious concern over the conditions under which displaced African immigrants in Isipingo are living.
The displaced foreign nationals have refused government’s assistance to be accommodated in a better environment at the Chatsworth interim shelter.
“Government will not allow the humanitarian crisis currently being witnessed at the site in Isipingo to continue, where approximately 200 African immigrants have erected makeshift structures made out of plastic and other flammable materials.
“When the shelters were established, it was made clear that these were temporary shelters to provide urgent humanitarian relief to the displaced African immigrants, while conditions were being created for them to safely return to their homes in their respective communities,” the provincial government said in a statement.
The Phoenix temporary shelter, which accommodated hundreds of displaced African immigrants, was closed down last week as part of the reintegration process.
“It is not the intention of government to create permanent separate settlements for African immigrants.
“African immigrants have lived and worked in South Africa and in the communities in our province for many years and throughout their stay, they have lived side by side with the locals. Many of them have families and friends and their children attend school in the communities where they lived,” the statement said.
On Saturday, the municipality brought four buses to the shelter in Isipingo to assist the remaining African immigrants to move to an alternative shelter in Chatsworth after consulting them.
However, after the temporary shelters were dismantled and services such as water and electricity were disconnected, the immigrants reneged on the agreement and refused to be transported to Chatsworth.
The displaced African immigrants are refusing assistance from government to be reintegrated back into their communities or repatriated to their countries of origin and instead want to be repatriated to other countries abroad.
About 681 African immigrants from the Isipingo shelter have been repatriated to their countries of origin.
EThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo said there are municipal officials on the ground helping people to move to a shelter that is safe while the reintegration process is underway.
“Our concern as government is that currently in Isipingo there are no services including ablution facilities, water and electricity as our agreement with the displaced African immigrants was that they be relocated to Chatsworth.
“Our biggest concern is that the environment they are living in is unhygienic and not safe, especially for women and children,” Mayor Nxumalo said.
He said those who have challenges will be assisted and engaged with to establish what their concerns are. All efforts are being made to create conditions for the African immigrants who are still displaced to be reintegrated into society.
Government is currently in discussions with all stakeholders involved to address the situation at Isipingo.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS