June 19, 2012 ·18 Comments
Somali shopkeeper on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa (HOL/Photo)
NAIROBI — South African bandits have assaulted and killed ten traders of Somali origin in their shops in less than a week in an unprecedented wave of xenophobia attacks, Shabelle Media reported.
Somali immigrants living in the former apartheid nation told the Mogadishu-based radio station that armed extortion groups robbed the Somali shopkeepers before slaying them. They confirmed to Shabelle on Tuesday that all ten were murdered in the past five days alone.
They said the Somali community was both shocked and terrified over the brutality of the crimes which many say pointed to racially motivated attacks.
They said xenophobia toward non-South Africans was again rising in the rainbow nation, especially toward migrant workers and traders from Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia. Many of the Horn of Africa communities say South African mobs often tell them to leave their country because they are not black.
A Somali businessman speaking on condition of anonymity said the Somali community has requested police protection but that they only made promises. Many immigrants have little faith in South Africa’s security forces citing the fact that police too often look on while they are attacked.
Somali community leaders have reportedly also approached various security departments appealing for urgent intervention.
Local groups believe the growing influx of foreign workers and asylum seekers — thousands monthly by some expert estimates — mainly from Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea exacerbates the already tense racial and ethnic relations in South Africa.
Many South Africans fear newcomers will take over their jobs, townships, businesses and eventually their country. They already complain about Somali immigrants for their business acumen claiming that they are hard to compete with. Across many parts of Sub-Sahara Africa, Somali businesses have became a target.
The number of violent attacks Horn of African communities peaked in 2010, when up to 5 were killed each month.That number has dropped significantly but the Somali community is scared it might re-emerge again. According to the Somali community, more than 750 Somalis have been murdered in South Africa in the last decade — translating to 75 been killed every year.
The station also reported that at least twenty shopkeepers have been robbed and ransacked just two weeks ago.
Like many South Africans in particular during the apartheid period, the worst form of racism is also claiming the lives of many innocent Somalis who came to the rainbow nation for better opportunities. It is worth knowing that during the time when Somalis had a government, they stood with South Africans against racism. The Somali government blocked its air space to the apartheid government. They were also fought for a free South Africa diplomatically chairing the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid from 1969 to 1972 under ambassador Abdulrahim Abby Farah.
June 19, 2012Follow @somalilandpress