It was meant to be a briefing on the budgets passed by DA-led coalitions in various metros across the country. Instead, the focus turned to foreign nationals.
Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota told journalists a coalition made up of opposition parties deserves power at both provincial and national level to control the number of people being allowed into South Africa.
"Government, at national [level], is allowing people to flood South Africa. Most people occupying the buildings are people coming from outside the country," Lekota, who was one of the coalition leaders at the briefing, remarked.
The Cope leader said the DA-led coalition government in the City of Johannesburg was working towards cleaning up old, disused buildings in the inner city so people can move there to be closer to opportunities within the city centre.
"We are not xenophobic," Lekota quickly declared before complaining about the influx of foreign nationals and its impact in the country.
"It can't be that any country that is concerned about its own citizens can leave its citizens out there and open the best positions and fill them up with people who come from other countries, making it difficult for people coming out of Soweto and places like that to be immediately nearer work and get jobs and live in better conditions," said the Cope leader.
Foreign shop owners 'cleaning South Africans out'
He said an opposition coalition government would seek to allow refugees into the country and build camps for them to live in.
Lekota defended his view when it was met by gasps.
"Yes, we were in exile ourselves. Our own South Africans were abroad and not allowed to occupy cities and push out the citizens of those countries," complained the Cope leader.
He also focused his attention on townships where foreign nationals had set up shops, saying that too needed to be addressed.
"We have foreign shops in this country, foreigners trading without paying VAT. Local South African people being cleaned out," he complained.
"In a coalition government we won't allow that," continued Lekota.
"We will look after refugees, but they must be located where they don't make it impossible for South Africans to run businesses.
"Why should our people pay tax and have regulations that don't apply to foreigners?" he said.
SA 'easy for a criminal'
Sharing his views on Lekota's comments, the DA's Mmusi Maimane told journalists that South Africa's borders were porous.
"We must secure our borders, we can't sit here and pretend having porous borders is the solution to our problems," said Maimane.
He raised concerns about the amount of human traffic at the country's borders, saying it was a fact that there was inadequate policing.
Maimane also complained about the state of the Department of Home Affairs, saying refugees and immigrants from across the world who came to South Africa struggled to even register at the department's many offices, describing it as a "near impossible task".
FF Plus' Pieter Groenewald also shared his thoughts on the issue, saying South Africa had an illegal immigrant problem.
"They put enormous pressure on local governments to provide services for those people," he said.
Groenewald said countries around the world had measures to control foreigners entering into their territories but that this country lacked these.
"It is easy for a criminal - I [am not saying] all people coming into South Africa are criminals, but it's a haven for real criminals because you just commit the crimes and just cross the border. There is no control of that and that is part of the crime problem in South Africa," he said.