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Refugees Kick Out Fellow Refugees

refugees kicked out by their own in cape town

Refugee Camp in Crisis: Leadership Struggles and Corruption Allegations Erupt at Refugee Camp

Flare Among Cape Town’s Refugees

A leadership dispute within a refugee camp in Cape Town has led to a group of refugees being forcibly expelled from their makeshift homes, igniting tensions reminiscent of similar incidents in recent years. This unfolding drama centres around a Congolese refugee leader, Jean Pierre Valouse, who is accused of ruling with an iron fist.

Expelled from Camp By Other Refugees

The group of refugees who have been living in a tent in Bellville since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 have, for the third time, seen themselves ousted from their shelter. The dispute mirrors a similar incident in 2019 when over 1,000 refugees occupied the Methodist Church on Green Market Square in Cape Town. At the heart of the turmoil is Jean Pierre Valouse, known as JP Bolus, the alleged authoritarian leader.

a refugee who was kicked out of a refugee camp by another refugee

Allegations of Corruption and Control

The displaced people who have been expelled from the camp accuse JP Bolus of controlling their lives with what they describe as corrupt practices. They claim he had been making promises while in jail that upon his release, they would receive assistance. However, upon his return, they say he no longer fulfils these commitments and has left for a camp in Namibia.

Financial Misconduct Allegations

Among the accusations levelled at JP Bolus is money laundering. Refugees allege that they were coerced into filling in forms and making financial contributions under the false pretence that these actions would secure aid from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The displaced persons questioned why they were being asked to pay rent within a UNHCR camp.

Persistent Leadership at The Refugee Camp

Despite his absence, JP Bolus is still perceived as the camp’s leader, and those within the camp believe that their needs can only be met through his leadership. He is accused of using the refugees’ ignorance to his advantage, making money through their contributions. It is suggested that the camp’s existence is integral to JP Bolus’ financial interests, and if the camp were to disband, he would also vanish.

Inside Perspective

Inside the camp, it is claimed that anyone not complying with JP Bolus’ rules is either required to reform or be expelled. The collected funds were intended for food and maintaining the camp’s facilities. Recent events have even led to violent altercations among the refugees, resulting in injuries.

a refugee camp lined with tents

Urgent Humanitarian Concerns

Refugees who have been expelled from the camp now find themselves living on the pavement, facing severe hardships, including a lack of toilets and ablution facilities. The situation has escalated to the point where it is now considered a humanitarian crisis. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Human Rights Commission are expected to hold urgent discussions to address the matter, with hopes of finding a resolution.

No End in Sight

While mediation has been proposed as a potential solution, the deeply rooted issues within the camp make the success of such efforts uncertain. The camp remains a contentious and troubling issue, with refugees living on the streets pleading for a way out of their dire circumstances.

A History of Strife

This recent conflict is not the first of its kind. In 2019, the Methodist Church on Green Market Square in Cape Town became a battleground as over 1,000 displaced persons occupied the premises. The situation was marked by ongoing disputes and a tense standoff with local authorities. It ultimately ended with the refugees being forcibly removed from the church, and the leader at the time, JP Bolus, facing allegations of impropriety.

Leadership in Question

The allegations against JP Bolus are far from new. Refugees have accused him of running the camp with an iron fist, dictating who stays, who goes, and who pays. The displaced persons have expressed concerns over his financial practices, claiming that funds intended for the camp’s well-being have been mishandled or misappropriated.

cape town mountain side by the sea

A Leader in Absentia

JP Bolus’ sudden departure to a camp in Namibia has not resolved the issues within the camp. In his absence, he is still seen as the de facto leader, with refugees believing that their futures and access to essential resources depend on his return.

The Ongoing Struggle

Within the camp, there’s a prevailing sense that compliance with JP Bolus’ rules is non-negotiable. Failure to adhere to his demands results in expulsion. This authoritarian approach has created an atmosphere of tension and fear within the camp, with some refugees suffering injuries during recent confrontations.

Desperate Conditions

The displaced persons expelled from the camp now find themselves in dire straits, living on the streets without access to basic amenities. The lack of toilets and ablution facilities poses significant health and safety concerns.

A Call for Urgent Action

In response to the deteriorating situation, discussions are underway with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Human Rights Commission. Urgent mediation has been proposed to address the crisis, but there are concerns about the feasibility of such efforts given the deeply entrenched issues within the camp.

A Plea for Help

The refugees affected by this dispute find themselves in an untenable situation, beseeching authorities and humanitarian organizations to intervene and provide them with the assistance and support they desperately need. The future of this troubled camp remains uncertain, and a lasting resolution remains elusive.

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