Mystery UNHCR-camp near Wallmansthal, Pretoria?
7 January 2011 Leave a comment
PRETORIA. There is growing concern in the Afrikaans community about the highly secretive activities of UNHCR – its tents are being used to set up a rapidly-growing tent-town where South African citizens from as far away as Pietersburg allegedly pay R1,000 for each erf. They are being moved into UNHCR tents at a highly-disputed land-site in the smallholding area of Wallmansthal, north of Pretoria. It is located near Grand Central airport and a military base and resorts under the Pienaarsrivier area.
They don’t look like impoverished refugees:
People were already moving into mystery UNHCR-camp near Wallmansthal: one man, a South African named Sipho Ledwaba, told Beeld newspaper that he had to ‘pay just above R1,000 for my erf”, but he didn’t know the person he’d paid the money to. Another man who refused to give his name, but had also moved into one of the 30 tents erected thus far, said he came from Pietersburg.
While Beeld was visiting the site two days ago, countless people showed up who said they came to inspect the site . Local residents also photographed people who were pacing out and measuring erven. The residents said none of these visitors ‘looked like impoverished refugees, many showing up in luxury cars’…
The site is highly controversial: in December 2010, the Pretoria High Court had ruled that no-one was allowed to be settled on the ecologically-fragile site until all the infrastructure facilities were first installed.
Cobus Claassen reported in Beeld yesterday that no-one in the neighbouring Afrikaans communities has any inkling as to who might be behind the tent-camp and who will be living inside these UNHCR tents .Local Ward 5 councillor Arnold van Niekerk of the DA said nobody seemed to know who was behind it – but the proper procedures are certainly not being followed: there is no infrastructure at all, he pointed out.
The UNHCR’s spokeswoman Pumla Rulashe could not be reached for comment as to why their tents were being erected on the controversial site: it was originally handed over to a black local community by the then-minister of Land Affairs Lulu Xingwana in 2007. Residents in the Buffelsdrift environmentally-fragile area have also lodged formal objections to a later decision by the land-claims commissioner that the land be handed over to a local black community which had demanded to be given land at the Defence Force’s training centre, which is located next to the site.
The photographs taken by local residents yesterday show that the tent city is still being erected and that it thus far has no ablution facilities. The people moving in show up in luxury cars and ‘don’t look like poor refugees,’ residents noted.
UN boosted refugee-budget in Southern Africa to $62-m last year…
The UN refugee agency boosted its southern African budget from more than $52-million in 2009 to $62-million (USD) last year. The southern African refugee commissioner’s office in Johannesburg handles all the regional refugee-activities for South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The largest number of refugees and displaced persons come or are still inside the increasingly dysfunctional country of Zimbabwe: totalling 9,200,000 persons according to the UNHCR’s latest known statistics. In December 2010 alone, more than 200,000 Zimbabweans applied for residency and/or political asylum in neighbouring South Africa.