July 4, 2009
By Ntando Ncube
More than 300 Zimbabweans staying at the Central Methodist Church were arrested in the Johannesburg inner city for loitering and sleeping on the pavements, metro police said on Saturday.
The church accommodates 4 500 Zimbabwean refugees and asylum seekers with an estimated average of 100 to 200 new arrivals per week.
Senior Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the raid followed numerous complaints from the high court and business owners in the city.
“The vagrants were making it impossible for anyone to walk on the pavement on Prichard, Kruis and Von Brandis streets. Some pedestrians had been attacked and robbed by some of the vagrants,” superintendent Minnaar said
Bishop Paul Verryn – whose church in provides shelter and food to homeless immigrants – said the church had seen an increase in the number of children of school-going age from Zimbabwe arriving to seek shelter after entering South Africa on their own.