SA: Violence against Somalis continues

Police in the Western Cape town of Delft South reported the brutal killing of yet another Somali man last Monday, in an armed robbery incident that has revealed a worrying persistence in attacks against Somali nationals.

Somali shop owner Yusuf Abdille was shot dead while his 34-year old colleague was seriously wounded in a shooting incident on Monday.

Police spokesperson Randall Stoffels said the incident happened about 9pm on Monday.

“He (Abdille) was fatally wounded and his 34-year-old Somali colleague was seriously wounded when three armed men fired several shots…as he was parking his vehicle in the garage at his house,” said Stoffels.

“His friend sustained a bullet wound to his left thigh and is in a serious condition in a nearby hospital.

“It is alleged that the suspects robbed them of an undisclosed amount of money. The suspects fled the scene on foot and are still at large,” Stoffels said.

Monday’s incident followed another attack on Saturday, during which a 31-year old shop assistant was shot by four gunmen in George.

The latest attacks have come as police and local and national government officials in the area strengthened calls for an end to violence against the refugees, many of whom have fled violence in their own country in search of peace in the southern African country.

However, despite more than 30 Somali nationals having been killed in “organised attacks” since the beginning of the year, police officials insist the violence is not due to xenophobia.

The officials believe the attacks are mainly robberies and business rivalry attacks targeted at Somalis who own shops in the areas where they stay.

At a recent meeting of representatives of Cape Towns Somali community and local police and government officials, provincial police commissioner Mzwandile Petros said police investigations had revealed that the bulk of attacks were motivated by robbery.

“I want to dispel this belief that it’s organised crime. Our investigation is not showing this. I think it is purely business-related ‘ there seems to be big competition, especially in Masiphumelele,” Petros said.

But Somalis in Cape Town believe the violence against them is because of their nationality.

“Some people say it’s robbery but it’s just xenophobic. It’s a clear matter of xenophobia,” Somali Ali Ebrahim said.

According to police and government figures, only 12 Somalis have been killed this year, but representatives of the Somali community believe the number is more than twice as many.

The Somali Association of South Africa (Sasa) says a number of cases have not added to the statistics because of “lack of communication between the police and the department of Home Affairs”.

Provincial Premier Ebrahim Rasool told journalists last week that nine arrests had been made across the province in the past three weeks, in connection wit public violence against Somali nationals.

He said the arrests were made in response to violence against Somalis in Khayelitsha, Masiphumelele (Noordhoek), George, Barrydale and Plettenberg Bay.

The South African government has struggled to counter widespread reports of violent xenophobic attacks on foreigners from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Somalia , where the majority of immigrants in the country are believed to be coming from.

Home Affairs officials have tried in vain to convince locals that the immigrants would help “contribute to local economic growth and development”.

September 2006
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