04/10/08 (B468) Shabelle & Thelocal : La peur des violences chassent Chefs d’entreprise somaliens. // Fear stalks Somali business owners (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Efforts to stabilise the Somali community have done little to quell the fears of Somali spaza shop owners.

They say they fear for their lives every day.

In the most recent incident of violence against the store owners, a Somali shop assistant was shot and killed when he refused to hand over cash to three armed robbers in Delft last week.

‘We don’t know what is wrong with these people’

Abuker Abduragman, a shop-owner in Delft, said he remained baffled by the « inhumane » actions of some South Africans.

« We feel scared. We don’t know what is wrong with these people. »

Abduragman said he felt helpless because there was nothing he could do to protect himself if he was attacked.

Last week’s attack happened one day after the Zanokhanyo Retailers’ Association in Khayelitsha withdrew threatening letters to Somalis demanding that they close down their shops.

Bashir Mohamed Abdi, of the Somali Traders’ Association in Khayelitsha, said the killing last week had been « dramatic » for the Somali community.

‘My brother was killed unnecessarily’

« My brother was killed unnecessarily.

« We were very desperate when we came to this country.

« We are not supposed to be killed.

« We are trying to be integrated but some people don’t want us living (here), » he said.

Abdi said about 600 Somalis had been killed in xenophobia-related attacks across South Africa since 2000.

He said his « brothers » constantly felt threatened by locals and the death of the 22-year-old man had further traumatised them.

Mandisi Njoli, secretary general of the Zanokhanyo Re-tailers’ Association, has countered that there had been no incidents of intimidation or death reported since the arrest of 11 locals who looted the shops of five Somali traders on Thursday last week.

The locals were arrested for being in possession of illegal firearms and live ammunition.

Meanwhile, three Somalis and several Ethiopians were arrested at the weekend for public violence at the Blue Waters safety camp in Strandfontein, after an Ethiopian faction allegedly brought in outsiders to benefit from relocation assistance.

Security was subsequently beefed up at the campsite.

But Muhamed Nuur, a Somali at Blue Waters, said he remained fearful.

« We are very scared for the women and children, » he said.