Motsoaledi on Cape refugees: Government's hands are tied

A court will have the final say about the repatriation of more than 700 foreign nationals living at the Central Methodist Church in Cape Town.

CAPE TOWN - More than 700 refugees in Cape Town will know their fate next week.

They've been living in and around the Central Methodist Church on Greenmarket Square for nearly four months.

READ: Cape Town refugees feel 'unsafe

They are demanding to be moved and resettled to other countries.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says the government's hands are tied.

READ: Cape Town refugees to learn their fate

He says it's impossible for South Africa to dictate to other countries that they will be repatriating asylum seekers.

"There is only one solution: To reintegrate people back to where they were before coming to the church," said Motsoaledi.

READ: South Africa takes fresh steps to restrict rights of refugees

Motsoaledi said the refugees have mentioned that they would like to be moved to either Namibia or Canada.

"With Namibia, I've got a letter from the minister who said it's not going to happen," said Motsoaledi.

READ: SAHRC commissioner threatened by refugee leader

"I met the deputy minister of immigration and refugee affairs of Canada, and she said it wasn't going to happen.

"It's impossible for us as government to tell another country that we are bringing people."

An asylum seeker said she came to South Africa because she thought it was a safe place.

Trader Lilian Makungwa said customer and tourist numbers are dwindling because of fears over safety.