The South African authorities must stop trying to ‘squeeze out’ asylum-seekers Amnesty International said today, after police used pepper spray and stun grenades to repel desperate crowds outside a Cape Town refugee office.
Crowds of around a thousand asylum-seekers and refugees trying to legally renew their permits at the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office have been refused entry since Monday 27 May, and over three days have been on the receiving end of stun grenades, pepper spray, warning shots and a fire-hose.
The tensions outside the Cape Town office come amid a recent national spike in attacks on small businesses owned by asylum-seekers and refugees.
A witness to the first incident on 27 May told Amnesty International:
“Suddenly the crowd started moving backwards. I asked someone what was happening and they told me the police were [pepper] spraying people. Then I heard a loud boom which sounded like a gunshot and the crowd started running. I ran with them. I saw a man with blood running down his head and two men with red eyes who had been sprayed.”