My name is Mzamani and I’m a member of the grassroots community movement, Ntirhisano Community Center (NCC). My first encounter with the refugee community occurred on Friday, 30 April 2021. On this day, predominately from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where many are displaced because of endless civil wars. The refugees and asylum seekers in this temporary facility had the choice between reintegrating back into local communities or facing deportation. Home affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced that he would cut ‘ablution services' (actually bucket toilet system) and take down the tent. It is now more than twelve months since the encampment bustled with media personnel. Since then, I have visited the encampment and revived the solidarity of the oppressed in their struggle against nation-states.
Within the nation states' borders and beyond, solidarity with refugees means fighting all forms of oppression and capitalism. Currently, 150 people (17 families and 15 singles) are still living inside the tent at the 'refugee camp' community in Kensington, Cape Town. In October 2019 they embarked on a historical protest that lasted nearly six months before they were brutally attacked by the police, and forced into buses without knowing where they were bused taken to. The majority are youths and children, while 19 students attend schools around Cape Town. Some are traumatized to even think about school. Others are denied admission because of their papers. Or because they cannot afford the fees. Interim Collectives and Ntirhisano have jointly begun learning activities and political education in the 'refugee community' to counter the challenges refugees face across Cape Town, the country, and the world
Where is the refugee camp? Due to oppressions, displacements, and uncertainties, your self-being is trampled. Short answer: The Camp is near the military airbase in Kensington, Cape Town. They are residing in a big tent. The tent is on vacant land stretching along the Voortrekker road. The road symbolizes the rise of Afrikaner nationalism and the former apartheid regime. The poor refugees, asylum seekers, and South Africans are all oppressed. There's an informal settlement on the one side of the tent that is growing. I saw a hospital file of a woman residing in the refugee camp with the physical address said: Voortrekker Road Informal Settlements (VRIS). The refugees and South Africans must unite against the oppression and reclaim the whole of this land – together!
About poor black foreigners
As a result of many years of unbearable frustrations in accessing asylum and refugee documents, in a country infamous for xenophobic attacks where many such incidents go without being reported, the police turn away and arrest ‘illegal undocumented foreigners’. The protesters demanded the UNHCR's intervention and to take them to a third country. The protesters were mainly foreign nationals from African countries and some Asian countries. The City of Cape Town administration resorted to draconian by-laws. By sending in the police to brutally attack peaceful protesters in a broad daylight. Police attacked pregnant women and young children and pulled them away from their mothers. Based on the infamous hard lockdown which followed the protocols of Covid-19 in early 2020: the protesters were involuntarily taken away from the City Center and dumped in the two camps. Their leaders were arrested and deported. Many refugees reintegrated back into the communities Some voluntarily went back to their countries of origin.
Among Ntirhisano's accomplishments are learning and recreational activities at the refugee camp, helping parents enroll their children in schools and creating a community vegetable garden with some of the camp's mothers. Ntirhisano is also intending to make follow-ups with refugees who reintegrated back into the local communities. Many are increasingly desperate because the rent is too high. Also, discrimination against poor black foreigners is endemic.
On behalf of the refugee camp community, in Kensington, Cape Town. Ntirhisano is raising money for school transportation for the children in the camp, as many have long journeys to school and fear xenophobic attacks. Additionally, we are hoping to support the day today-to-days of the community in which there are many unemployed adults (not having work permits) struggling to support their households.
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