Somalis live in fear

Somali shop owners in Khayelitsha and surrounding areas are appealing to residents and community stakeholders to protect them and their businesses after five Somali shop-owners were robbed and killed, in three separate incidents, in Site C.

Khayelitsha police station spokesperson Captain Marcellus Rajap told Vukani that these incidents had all taken place since the beginning of the year and that the motive in all instances had been robbery.

Abshir Abduccahi, who owns a shop in Site C, said he was lucky to still be alive after his brother was shot three times last year, when they were robbed. He added that he had also been shot in the arm twice. He said the robbers took money and some of their belongings.

“The recent massacre of Somalis has opened healing wounds, and brought back the sad memory of how my brother was killed,” he said.

The 24-year-old said he had been reluctant to open the shop because he feared for his own life. However, because he has to look after his siblings and other relatives, he had no choice but to re-open the shop.

Mr Abduccahi said they locked themselves inside the shops because they were afraid. He also believed that being foreigners made them soft targets for robbers, and that local shop owners were not targeted.

Mr Abduccahi said running a shop was the only thing he knew how to do and that because they could not get employment in the country, running a business was the only way out of poverty.

Mr Abduccahi said the only reason they left their home country was because of war and other socio-economic issues and that they were not here to steal jobs.

“We are in search of a better life. Running shops puts our lives in danger and we are always the first people the criminals want to rob. The truth is that the police do not treat us fairly. When we are robbed the first thing they ask us is, where are we hiding our guns?” he said.

Mncedisi Mbatha, the campaign manager for the Agency for Refugee Education, Skills Training and Advocacy (ARESTA), condemned the killings. He urged residents and community stakeholders to protect foreigners, adding that he believed some of the attacks had been well-planned.

Mr Mbatha urged the residents to take a stand against the killings.

“We are planning to have a meeting with community organisations to discuss how can we address this issue. The trauma these people deal with is too much. They are here to run business and I think we, as South Africans, should engage with them on how to improve our business instead of killing them,” he said.