We understand refugee experience and pray for safe spaces for displaced people.
Gardens, Cape Town, Wednesday 26 February— The Cape South African Jewish Board of Deputies (Cape SAJBD) calls for peace and calm during the execution of the court order to remove refugees and asylum seekers from outside and around the Central Methodist Church, home to many since December last year.
As Jews, who have a long history of being refugees, we have much empathy and compassion for displaced people. We have historically extended a hand in friendship to support refugee communities where possible. As a minority group, we also acknowledge that we have to follow the laws of the land. A central principle in our religious laws, based on Jeremiah 29:7, reads dina d’malkhuta dina (“the law of the land is the law”). The law is to be upheld, and congregants of the Central Methodist church also need to be able to return to their place of worship.
We appreciate the problems refugees face in obtaining necessary papers, exacerbated by the Department of Home Affairs’ failure to reopen its Cape Town office. We urge refugees and asylum seekers living around the Central Methodist Church to utilise the verification process offered by the Department of Home Affairs until Friday 28 February and register for any assistance they may need.
We call on the City and law enforcement to act with sensitivity, compassion and restraint and on the refugee community to cooperate with authorities. We hope that the court order will be executed peacefully.
We also pray that the refugees will be able to find a safe space that they and their families can call home — a space free from threats of racism, xenophobia and violence.
The Cape SAJBD will continue to monitor the situation and assist refugee communities wherever possible.
The Cape South African Jewish Board of Deputies (Cape SAJBD) is a forward-thinking Jewish organisation that seeks to inform and empower local communities, and connect Jewish identity to projects and activities that effect positive change in the Western Cape.