What Happened To South African Elderly Couple When They Opened Their Home To 143 African Refugees Could Be A Lesson On What The EU Should Do With Syrian Refugees

Since March of 2011, an estimated nine million Syrians have fled their homes, and their country, seeking refuge from the violence caused from civil war. In the latter half of 2015, multiple news outlets reported on a little under 150,000 Syrians declaring asylum in the European Union (EU), especially in Germany, a country that welcomed them with open arms.

Though it is usually considered commendable to help those who are in dire need, many have expressed concerns that the Syrian refugees were entering the EU not to find refuge but to infiltrate the country to establish their way of life (particularly, Sharia Law). When news broke that on New Year’s Eve, over 500 women were victims of “rape mobs” allegedly initiated by dozens of Muslim men, it turned into a frenzy.

Despite the views of the Left and Ring wings of government, it does show an underlying flaw between both parties. For the Left, it seems their “bleeding hearts” are blind to the potential criminals among refugees. For the Right, they group all refugees as threats due to the actions of a few. Perhaps, if both sides were to understand what happened to a South African elderly couple in a similar situation when they took in 143 refugees, incidents like the one that happened in Cologne, Germany could be minimized.

Refugees Sharing Food
Refugees on Andrew and Rae Wartnaby's land are preparing food for each other (Amanda Khoza/News24).

In July 2015, Andrew and Rae Wartnaby, an elderly couple both aged 47, said they were heartbroken when they heard a municipality was closing the remaining camp for displaced refugees in Chatsworth, as reported by News24. Apparently, their hearts sank even further when they found out that some of the refugees had been arrested and separated from their children. The Wartnaby Couple decided to do all they could to reunite the arrested refugees with their children, stating they have a soft spot for children. Next, they opened Hope Farm, their home, to the refugees after the refugees — consisting of families from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi — were kicked off the municipality. The Wartnaby Couple set up tents and camps, and provided food and clinic services.

Fast-forward five months to December 2015, things suddenly changed for the Wartnaby Couple as the 143 displaced refugees suddenly turned on them, seizing Hope Farm as their own, as reported by News24. The New Observer further detailed the story, explaining that the Wartnaby Couple had to flee their own farm after the refugees destroyed their property. Not only that, the refugees also accused the Wartnaby Couple of “not helping them to be relocated back home or to another country.” This was believed to actually mean the refugees were upset they did not get enough money, passports, or the ability to go back home.

In the end, the refugees attacked the Wartnaby Couple’s home in the early hours of the morning. They cut down the fence around the house, smashed windows and doors, and threatened to kill Andrew Wartnaby for “working for the government and not them.” Andrew also noticed through the broken windows that tents and camps were engulfed in flames. Andrew asked if everyone was okay but only received threats of his death in return.

“When we took everyone in, we said we would try and help, which we have. But they feel like it has been too long and we let them down. I have asked that group to leave my farm, but they refuse to and to be honest, I don’t know what is going to happen. All I know is that I don’t want to be murdered tonight.”

At the time of the reports, the refugees were still in control of Hope Farm and no arrests were made. As for the Wartnaby Couple, they went into hiding. As of this writing, the rambunctious refugees have been removed, a task that was found to be easier to accomplish once it was determined the 143 refugees were split into two groups, i.e. the peaceful refugees and the refugees who threatened Andrew.

The remaining refugees are doing all they can to get back on their feet. They are learning skills, taking courses, and building a resume that will help them in the future, as stated in a blog entry by Hope Farm.

What should have been done in the EU? Accept Syrian refugees, let them know they will get help, but ensure they must oblige to the rules, customs, and culture of the country they are seeking refuge in. Even with the sovereignty hammer brought down, countries harboring refugees should be prepared to kick out the riff-raff who do not appreciate the help, wanting to do as they please despite their refugee status. As for those who truly appreciate the refuge, nothing says love and peace more than a hug followed by a place at one’s dinner table.

[Photo by John Moore/Getty Images]