4 May 2015

Government Concerned About ‘Unhygienic’ Conditions At Makeshift Isipingo Shelter

The KwaZulu-Natal Government and eThekwini Metro is concerned about the inhumane conditions displaced by African immigrants in Isipingo who have elected to live under after refusing government’s assistance to be accommodated in a conducive environment at the Chatsworth interim shelter.

Government will not allow the humanitarian crisis currently being witnessed at the site in Isipingo, where approximately 200 African immigrants have erected makeshift structures made out of plastic and other flammable materials, to continue.

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. 

As a result last week the Phoenix temporary shelter that accommodated hundreds of displaced African immigrants was closed down 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 of our province and for many years and throughout their stay here they have lived side by side with locals. Many of them have families and friends and their children attend school in the communities where they lived. 

The Municipality is also aware that the situation is now being politically manipulated by some parties seeking to score cheap political points by using the plight of African immigrants for their own selfish reasons to render the City ungovernable.

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 with them. 

However, after the temporary shelters were dismantled and other services were disconnected such as water and electricity, the immigrants reneged on the agreement and refused to be transported to Chatsworth.

What is more concerning is that 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,” he said. 

Nxumalo added that those who have challenges will be assisted and engaged 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. They deserve to lead a normal life as they have done for many years in our country.

Government is currently in discussions with all stakeholders involved to address the situation at Isipingo which is a concern to all of us. This matter is receiving top priority from government and the way forward will be communicated tomorrow, 5 May 2015. 

ENDS

Tozi Mthethwa-083 307 9067

Gugu Mbonambi-079 751 4986