2006-09-01 : We didn't come here to be killed


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2006-09-01 : We didn't come here to be killed

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2006-09-08 06:48

M & G online - Pearlie Joubert 01 September 2006 08:16


'We didn't come here to be killed'

About 60 Somalis have been killed and another 15 injured in the Western Cape in the past two months in a deliberate attempt to chase businessmen from the African country out of Cape Town's townships, according to the Somali residents.

They said 29 Somali businessmen had been killed in August alone, mostly in Khayelitsha. On Monday night about 300 residents and shop owners from Masiphumelele outside Kommetjie attacked, looted and torched Somali businesses and homes. Most Somalis there have fled and are being housed in a
Simonstown caravan park. Two men have been charged with public violence.

Asked why the Western Cape African National Congress had not taken a stand against the violence, James Ngculu, ANC provincial chairperson, protested this week: "Why do you call these attacks xenophobic? When a British tourist is attacked, do you call it xenophobic? Do you know how many Xhosa business people are murdered in Khayelitsha every week? Do you call that xenophobic?"

This week about 200 Somali businessmen met in Cape Town to work out a "plan of action to stop the slaughter" in what some warn will result in the formation of a vigilante group.

"We've had enough. We're innocent people. We're very angry with the government because we are being victimised and don't feel protected by the oliticians. Nobody is doing or saying anything about our brothers being killed. No one has been prosecuted," said Aziz Mohammed, who owns a shop in

"We will retaliate if necessary. We know how to fight -- we didn't come here to be killed. My own country is in the grip of civil war, but at least there I could protect myself. Here, I cannot own a firearm. We are sitting ducks for these killers," Mohammed said

Mohammed has been attacked and robbed five times in recent months, with the last group of attackers telling him he will be killed soon. His shop, seen by the Mail & Guardian, is riddled with bullet holes.

A Khayelitsha policeman, who asked to remain anonymous, confirmed that no arrests had been made. "We have so many cases, my sister ... we will get to those cases of the refugees, but we can't do it right now because locals are also dying and we need to talk to their families."

The wave of xenophobia is not restricted to Somalis. The M&G also interviewed Mozambican and Congolese traders, who agreed that anti-foreigner sentiment in the black townships had escalated in recent months.

All those interviewed agreed that the latest attacks were not robberies, as nothing was stolen. Said Abdul a Somali shopowner: "Both my brothers were shot dead by three middle-aged black men who arrived in an expensive car. They were busy locking up our shop and had the day's takings. My one brother tried to run away but they hunted him down like a dog and shot him in the head. He still had all the money in his pocket when the cops arrived."

On August 29 -- when 35 Somalis died -- Western Cape minister for community safety Leonard Ramatlakane condemned the attacks as xenophobic. "We condemn this type of crime, which has some xenophobic tendencies. Crime committed against anyone in our country, whether one is a South African, an asylum seeker or a refugee, will be dealt with directly. Our laws protect all of our people."

On Wednesday night, Western Cape Premier Ibrahim Rasool ordered Ramatlakane to investigate allegations that South African business-people were behind the attacks.

In response to the violence, the Department of Home Affairs set up a counter-xenophobia unit earlier this month. "These xenophobic attacks are on the increase. We're appealing to people to help us to turn the tide against xenophobia," said Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Mansele Tau.

Mozambican Francisco (not his real name), who has lived in South Africa for more than 10 years and is married to a South African, is a successful businessman in Delft. Last month, his brother was shot dead in their shop -- a year after his best friend was killed in the same way. "We know who killed
my brother. Some of them still walk past the shop.

The police in Delft told me to get statements from eyewitnesses and they will investigate the case. "Local people don't mix with us; we've made no real friends among the locals. They keep us at arm's length." Francisco said refugees tended to be extremely hard-working because they generally arrived with nothing. "We work seven days a week from six in the morning until nine at night. I employ two local people; I pay tax; I provide a service to a poor community.

"The people don't like to see us succeed and say we're taking their jobs; that we sleep with their women; we don't understand their culture and don't speak their language. So we must fuck off back where we came from."
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