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South Africa: Mob Attacks Somali Traders

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Mzolisi Witbooi

Cape Town, SA, August 29, 2006 - In a fresh spate of violence against Somali traders, a mob of angry Masiphumelele residents attacked the Somalis, robbed stores and vandalized their homes in a bid to chase them away.

It is believed that Monday night's attacks were influenced by Masiphumelele shopkeepers who claimed that the Somalis were taking away their business.

The latest attacks come after news reports that 27 Somalis have been killed in Cape Town this year.

Six shops, including the Simunye, Siviwe, Imana and Baraka stores, were robbed and vandalized by the mob.

A handful of Somali women was seen escaping the township, leaving their belongings behind. They said they would seek refuge at the Fish Hoek police station.

Meanwhile, a crowd of more than 200 Masiphumelele residents looted foodstuffs such as bread, flour, cooking oil and vegetables from one of the shops.

Beds, stoves and other furniture were also looted from the houses where the Somalis lived.

Somali shopkeeper Mukhtar Ahmed, who had been operating for three months, said: "I was sleeping inside the shop when I heard them breaking in.

"I phoned the police but they never came. The people beat me up until my landlord came to intervene."

The grocery shelves of his store, like other Somali stores, had been ransacked and money stolen.

"I told my family to go to the police station. I am also taking my stock to the police station and hopefully I'll meet them there," he said.

His landlady, Cynthia Ope, said local shopkeepers did not want Somalis in the township, claiming they were taking away business.

"When they noticed that Somali businesses were thriving, they called a meeting to address what they termed an invasion," Ope said. They decided to chase the Somalis away.

Apparently all the Somali shopkeepers had been warned that their shops would be raided, because none of them opened for business.

One of the residents said local shopkeepers accused the baraka (derogatory term for Somalis) of bringing bad fortune to the community.

Ocean View police on Tuesday confirmed reports of the attacks on Somali traders.

Source: Cape Argus

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