We are under attack’

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Cape Town – Deep concern has been expressed by the Save Somali Community (SSC) alleging that their countrymen are being targeted in Western Cape townships.

At least eight Somali shopkeepers have been killed in just over a month.

“We feel like we are under attack. Our traders are now fearful to even step outside their shops, and instead remain inside their stores.”

“We are not sure what the motive is, but it is a big concern for us all,” said Abdi Alas Gure of the SSC.

He said it appeared that their “brothers” who owned businesses in the townships were being victimised.
The Cape Argus has seen death certificates of at least five Somali shopkeepers who have been killed in Khayelitsha.

According to Gure, six shopkeepers were murdered in Khayelitsha Site C, one in Makhaya and two in Philippi. He said Gugulethu was another area where they had been receiving many complaints of shopkeepers targeted.

Gure said there had been a spate of Somali business robberies. But the police could not confirm this due to a moratorium on crime stats.

The police’s Andre Traut said crime statistics cannot be released.

“The most common motive for murders on Somali nationals in the Khayelitsha area is robbery. Murders and business robberies are high on the priority list for the police in the Khayelitsha Cluster and crime operations and interventions are directed to prevent these crimes,” said Traut.

Despite other foreign nationals also operating their businesses in these areas, Gure said Somali business owners came off worst.

“Before all shops used to be targeted including those owned by locals, but now it’s only Somali shops that are being attacked.”

A week ago a girl, 7, was shot dead and two men wounded in an alleged robbery of a Somali business in Site C in Khayelitsha.

Police said a Somali shopkeeper had allegedly fired the shots.

Mohamed Cabdi Maalim, a shop owner, said the local Somali community felt defeated: “We came to this country trying for a better life and safety, but now we are faced with the same challenges that we were running away from.

“We don’t ask anyone for money, we are self-employed refugees and that seems to be a problem.”

South African Human Rights Commission spokesperson Zena Nair said the commission had not received complaints.

“The loss of life is always of concern to the Commission and we would therefore request that the community concerned make contact with the commission at their soonest opportunity in order for the commission to ascertain how best it may be of assistance,” she said.

Khayelitsha Development Forum spokesperson, Ndithini Tyhido said: “We condemn all attacks on Somali or on any other foreign national.

“We would like to encourage a dialogue between all Khayelitsha business owners, including foreign nationals, so that we could work together.”

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