REFUGEE CASE BACK IN COURT ON FRIDAY

Mail & Guardian/Sapa, 3 June 2008

PLEASE NOTE: Readers wishing to reproduce and reference this article
should contact the editors of the Mail & Guardian and/or Sapa for permission


Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), the organisation opposing the relocation of foreigners displaced by Xenophobic violence to City Deep in Johannesburg, will return to court on Friday. The Johannesburg High Court granted an urgent interdict on Monday preventing the relocation of the foreigners, currently at the Cleveland and Jeppe police stations, to City Deep for security reasons. More than 60 people have been killed and tens of thousands displaced in a wave of xenophobic violence that started in Alexandra, Johannesburg, on May 12. Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, the head of the Migrant and Refugee Rights Programme, said it was only an interim interdict and that the parties would return to court at the end of the week. "We go back to court on Friday, and if the government wishes to oppose, they will do it then," she said. "Because the application was brought on an urgent basis, there was no opportunity for the government to respond. The papers were served on the government maybe two hours before we went to court." The application was brought by LHR in conjunction with the Johannesburg Central Methodist Church and Médecins sans Frontières pending an order that would "ensure the safety of the displaced foreigners", the LHR said in a statement. The LHR said that while it recognised the urgent need for temporary shelters, there were "serious concerns" about the safety of the temporary shelter at Vickers Road. "The Vickers Road shelter is being constructed on the site of an old railway station in area of Kaserne that is directly adjacent to a hostel. "There were reports that hostel dwellers fired shots at the persons who were tasked with setting up the camp over the weekend," it said. Gauteng spokesperson Thabo Masebe on Monday said the government would study the court order first before responding. Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa will brief the media on the resettling of foreign nationals later on Tuesday.