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INSPECTION REPORT CENTRAL METHODIST CHURCH 25 FEB 2010

The situation at the CMC over the last two weeks have seen seesaw type of conditions.

With regards to hygiene, loitering and people hanging around in the building during the day we have seen improvements that unfortunately were not long lasting.

There has been considerable effort placed in cleaning the building up inside to improve on the hygiene conditions in the church. The main thrust of activities took place for about a week where volunteers were cleaning up. However the last week has seen the conditions degrade again.

The hawkers and traders at the entrance to the church have also been removed, as well as those cooking and selling food inside the church.

Security at the church were for a while attempting to prevent people from loitering in the church during the day, and children schooling in the church were being controlled when leaving the premises.. This however did not last for very long and after about a week the situation is back to the same as before where people enter and exit at will.

There is an attempt to repair plumbing and other defects within the church. Although most of the repairs are complete as of today, the ablution facilities remain insufficient for the amount of people in the church. Ventilation is still a big problem as the system has not been repaired.

There is no longer such a huge or massive loitering outside the church.

About 2 weeks ago there was only 26 unaccompanied children were over he age of 14 at the church. As of today only 6 of those children remain with the others having been moved to Soweto.

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An attempt has been made to clean up the facility.  Toilets are being cleaned, the cooking room has been vacated and is not a hive of dirt anymore. Although these efforts are welcomed, and they are sure to have an impact on the levels of hygiene, they are still nothing more window dressing to try and make it look as if there is a marked improvement of conditions. This is especially true due to the high media attention that the church has been recieving and inspection revealed several foreign news agencies were active in the building at the time.

In general, little has change with regards to the conditions at the church and women with very small babies are still to be found sleeping on the stairway floors in dark unventilated corners of the church.

With regards to the unaccompanied minors at the church, there are children that have been removed from the church (apparently by curator) and taken to undisclosed location.

The problem persists as there are 32 more children that are unaccompanied at the church at present. These include very small children that have been abandoned by parents who took them to the creche (FLOC) at the church, and have left them there.

There are also children that apparently their parents have been arrested by police and a few newcomers to the church.

There is a name list available of the children but DMPSP was denied access to the list.

There are still children who are hiding out in Soweto somewhere since last year when Social Dev wanted to place them into homes. The initial reports indicated approximately 60 children. However it is presently unknown how many exactly are still hiding out there. Some of these children however travel everyday to Central Methodist Church to attend school there.

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Inspection of the facility housing migrants and displaced people at the Central Methodist Church :

There is an attempt to clean up the facility.. Toilets have been cleaned, the cooking room has been cleaned out and is not a hive of dirt anymore. Although these efforts are welcomed and they are sure to have an impact on the levels of hygiene, they are still nothing more window dressing to try and make it look as if there is a marked improvement of conditions. This is especially true due to the high media attention that the church has been recieving and inspection revealed several foreign news agencies were active in the building at the time.

In general, little has changed with regards to the conditions at the church and women with very small babies are still to be found sleeping on the stairway floors in dark unventilated corners of the church.

With regards to the unaccompanied minors at the church, there are children that have been removed from the church (apparently by curator) and taken to undisclosed location.

The problem persists as there are 32 more children that are unaccompanied at the church at present. These include very small children that have been abandoned by parents who took them to the creche (FLOC) at the church, and have left them there.

There are also children that apparently their parents have been arrested by police and a few newcomers to the church.

There is a name list available of the children but DMPSP was denied access to the list.

There are still children who are hiding out in Soweto somewhere since last year when Social Dev wanted to place them into homes. The initial reports indicated approximately 60 children. However it is presently unknow how many exactly are still hiding out there. Some of these children however travel everyday to Central Methodist Church to attend school there.

With the media attention on the church at a high level at present, it has been noted that the political / other intimidation at the church has increased.

The activists/ unionists/militants that are known instigators and intimidators are permanently monitoring the entrance the church and make sure that media / NGO staff are followed and monitored. We noted that people at the church were very weary of making any comments or providing any information regarding the church. Their eyes were constantly taking looks at the monitors. There is clear and hightened sense of fear and intimidation.

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Albert Street School of the Central Methodist Church has been closed.

Children have been moved from Central Methodist Church to places of safety.

Hygiene conditions have improved at the church.

DMPSP condemns in the strongest sense all false accusations or announcements that have been made regarding sexual abuse of children by Bishop Paul Verryn. These allegations are false and undignified. DMPSP research indicated abuse of children by residents and outsiders where sex was being exchanged for favours. All allegations being made in this regard against Bishop Paul Verryn are false.

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experience is that xenophobia is practiced in many subtle ways,what
makes you believe the children will not be subjected to humiliation,
xenophobia and eventually lose the shelter and schooling?
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With regards to the children the first priority would be to place the
children in a facility where the protection granted to children under the Bill of Rights of the Constitution is not being violated.

Almost every right afforded to children under the Bill of Rights is being
violated as long as the children are staying at the Central Methodist
Church.

Once the children are placed in a proper, controlled, and monitored
environment where all activities relating to the development of the child can be monitored effectively, then we will be able to identify any such “subtle” xenophobia that you refer to.

At present the children cannot be monitored. Paul Verryn refused assistance and guidance from any entity (including govt, which has the responsibility to apply the conditions spelled out by the constitution in the protection of the rights of the child).

Also the children are kept at the CMC in conditions where they are subjected to and susceptible to abuse, manipulation, crime, rape, disease, and countless other horrible things that children should not be subjected to.

The conditions at the church are on-going , cannot be checked and cannot be controlled.

Has any organization actually bothered to do inspection of the facilities that government was providing for the children.

Was there any documented report that identified these facilities as being unfavourable or unsuitable for the children.

Was there any documented investigation of the so-called “subtle” xenophobic attitudes.

No.

Everyone just “rallied” behind what PV had to say.

Children are easily influenced and manipulated, and we believe that this applies to the children at the CMC.

Furthermore, children which have for so long been staying at a place where no discipline is being applied, find it very hard to adapt to conditions where discipline and structure are implemented as a norm.

Allegations of Xenophobia at the facility provided for by government are unfounded..

The home at Orange Farm is brand new. Has a complex of houses, which accommodates ten children with its own sitting room, dining room, tv and a house-mother for each house. All are standing practically empty. A facility that can handle 150 children has only 36. There was no Xenophobica attitudes from staff and the facility even had at the time a foreign volunteer psychiatric nurse.

Why would anyone with humane principles allow children to remain under inhumane conditions when suitable favourable accommodation exists. What kind of people flaunt with the rights of children in such a manner.

What kind of precedent are we setting here..

The Social Welfare dept (whose job is to watch over the rights of children) like the DMPSP found the conditions at the CMC to be contrary to those favourable for well being and habitation by children.

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> It is very true that the political situation in Zimbabwe is far from being normal,what is wrong when someone such as Bishop Verryn tries to shield defenceless people housed at CMC?
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There is nothing wrong with Paul Verryn trying to help the poor and
destitute. However we must not fall into the trap of placing him on a
pedestal. Just like there are corrupt, incompetant or negligent government officials, so there are other such elements throughout any sector in society.

We are willing to point out and announce government officials incompetence, yet we are hesitant to touch on the subject if it involves clerics.

The fact remains that although PV intentions were indeed honourable, he has proven to be incapable of handling or managing the situation regarding the housing of such a number of people in a completely inadequate facility.

Maybe he should have tried to keep the number of people lower, so that he could really do something constructive for those he really was supposed to be helping.

As it stands, there are many people that should not be in the facility if we were to look at the principles behind the functioning of any shelter. There are people who staying in the church that have stable employement and are in reality beyond the need to be provided with shelter. Space and resources that are being utilized by these people could be better served by alleviating conditions for those who are really in need.

On several occasions I have seen newcomers to the city, who are really stranded and destitute, not even get any food at the church because others who have been there longer and are in effect bullies, take the food for themselves.

We have had extensive experience at the CMC and have conducted extensive research at the facility. There is no way in which we can support any notion that the facility is any sort of dignified shelter for anyone.

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>The only political party that has openly addressed the community at CMC is the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai who demonstrated his displeasure of the conditions at CMC.Could you name the organisations and political parties using the population at CMC as tools? Is the MDC one of them?
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It is easy for you to go through media reports and find a whole list of organizations, NGO’s, Unions and even political parties that have stood behind Paul Verryn when anyone, including the authorities, has leveled any criticism regarding the church and the activities there or has tried to implement any sort of programme to re-structure and try relocate the children or people from the church.

Our research at the CMC has indicated that political indoctrination and intimidation is taking place at the church. There are activists even militants amongst the residents at the CMC. Whether they belong to whatever party, it has not been established.

There has been ample voiced support for PV’s efforts. Recently a whole conglomorate of organizations issued a joint statement basically honouring PV for his efforts. They mentioned only in passing a little comment about the conditions at the church “not being sustainable”…

Such weak words for an ongoing humanitarian crisis.

However most of these organization rarely fail to mention that the root cause of people being found at the church (and PV offering his assistance etc) is the Zimbabwean Govt failing at governance and the SA Govt failing to help etc. This is a political point that organizations mostly like to emphasize.

Little regard, in fact, is given for the people in the church.

As a point of criticism. I wish to extend this concern to the media. Which always tend to highlight the Zimbabwe Issue instead of concentrating on the real crisis of the conditions under which “humanitarian organizations” are allowing human beings, including children, to stay and live in at the CMC.

DMPSP’s concern is for the displaced people that are being allowed to remain in such a crisis. Our mission and objectives are clearly spelled out in our mission statement. (refer to our website http://www.dmpsp.org)

No NGO could call itself a humanitarian organization if they continued to allow, or supported the notion that people should stay under those
conditions, when alternative measures and facilities exist. Facilities where far more effective monitoring (including xenophobic attitudes)can be conducted and better services may be provided to beneficiaries who are in real and desperate need.

The criminality that goes on in the church is horrific.. Children are being used for criminal activities. Criminal gangs exist amongst the residents, political and psychological indoctrination is taking place.

We should never forget that a large amount of people that are staying at the CMC there are poor, destitute and vulnerable.

Is this a favourable situation?

Should we allow a facility that is badly managed and enfringing on basic human rights to continue to exist..

The Central Methodist Church is NO SHELTER.. and is certainly NO HAVEN.

Children and women are abused and rights are violated. People are robbed and assaulted.

The sleeping arrangements and living conditions in the church are inhumane.

DMPSP also declares that the facilities at the CMC to be contrary to those favourable for the well being and habitation by humans.

The only Notion that DMPSP supports regarding the CMC, is that the facility must be closed down.

People at the church should be profiled, and those in real need must be relocated to suitable facilities which have interactive and incorporate exit plans for allowing beneficiaries to become self-sustainable and reintegrated to society.

The remainder of residents that are self-sustaining should identify their own accommodation and integrate into the stream of society where they will conduct their lives in a normal manner.

To say that these people cannot leave the church because its “so bad” out there for foreigners.. is a complete lie..

Research conducted by our staff at Musina (Beit Bridge) monitoring the “migration” precess across the border indicated an average of approximately 4464 people that are migrating daily to Gauteng from Zimbabwe.

Only an extremely small percentage of these migrants end up at the CMC (the so-called “haven” for Zimbabwean “refugees”).

The rest of the people are out there in South African Society amongst the the other 4-6 million Zimbabweans residing amongst South Africans in South Africa.

DMPSP believes that although there have been incidents of Xenophobia, and attitudes of xenophobia exist throughout South African society. We should promote efforts to allow people to live together and integrate through normal social interaction within South African society.

By “encamping” foreigners in a facility such as the CMC, under those
conditions, with the amount of politisizing that is going on around the issue, we will be promoting xenophobia.

We condemn the continued justification for allowing people to remain at the CMC as being the economic sitiuation etc in Zimbabwe or any other feeble excuse for refusing to remove the people from such a facility.

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PAUL VERRYN SUSPENDED

DMPSP welcomes the suspension of Bishop Paul Verryn from the Methodist Mission. Paul Verryn has been a major stumbling block in allowing organizations and government to affect any change to the situation surrounding the migrants being housed at the Central Methodist Church.

Reports that the real culprit in the CMC issue is the government are unfounded. The CMC has been utilized by some organizations and political parties to apply pressure on Govt and international community with regards to the situation in Zimbabwe. The fact remains that a large percentage of the people at the CMC do not have to be there. They are working and earning a living. Staying at the CMC has been for political reasons.

Govt as well as many other Non-Governmental organizations have for ages attempted to to assist Paul Verryn in relocating needy people to adequate shelters. This assistance has been refused or sabotaged so that the church remains an issue that is constantly acquiring media attention.

DMPSP continues to be highly concerned with the situation regarding the children being housed at the church. Although a curator has been appointed by the court to look after the interests of this the children, these children are still to be found at the CMC.

DMPSP urges all stakeholders to take drastic action in moving the children from the facility. Reports have been issued to the media by Bishop Verryn that some of the children have been taken in by families in Johannesburg. DMPSP has however found no real evidence that this has actually happened.

Our investigations have indicated that all children are still at the church whereas some are still hiding away in Soweto. If this has actually happened, it has been some isolated case which has been used for publicity purposes.

Reports that have emanated from Bishop Verryn and the CMC, that the facilities that government has provided for the children have “xenophobic” attitudes, are unfounded. Facilities inspected by DMPSP were found to be adequate and in line with requirements for housing children under favourable conditions.

We hope that the removal of Paul Verryn will create a situation where people being housed at the CMC will no longer be political tools being used by some organizations (including political parties) in highlighting the situation in Zimbabwe.

DMPSP urges government to take necessary steps to have the people in the church profiled, and those in real need of assistance be removed to a suitable facility

The so-called shelter at the Central Methodist Church must be closed down.

Walter da Costa e Silva
CEO DMPSP

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LATEST ON CHILDREN AT CMC

Latest on Children at Central Methodist Church

……well we waited in anticipation for the court to decide what was going to happen regarding children at the Central Methodist Church..

We critisized the courts the discision to allow the children to remain in a place where they were exposed to abuse and violation of human rights.

We finally got a verdict from the court that a curator be appointed to look after the interests of the children…… that was more than a week ago.. what has happened since then…….. well nothing..

Children at the CMC are still there. still exposed to voilence mal-treatment and abuse….. and the numbers have increased… with new arivals and all…. What exactly is being done…. Noone knows.. its a big secret… after all …. they can do what they want at the CMC.. The court has decided in their favour.. Government cant touch them… cant remove the children to a place of safety.. Well anyway.. before we become too critical.. lets wait a bit.. after all.. everything works on its own time here… even if children’s rights are in question.. Hope you guys have a nice day…

Current events :

Migrants resident at Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg to be relocated soon.

Thousands displaced near Laudium Pretoria South Africa as Red Ants des…troy illegal shacks. Evicted residents threaten to occupy homes of foreigners.

New incidents of Xenophobia in South Africa as Somalian shop owners targeted in Western Cape.

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