Cape Town – Somali shopkeepers in Khayelitsha are at the end of their tether and have appealed to authorities to stop the killings.
At least 12 Somali shopkeepers have been killed in Khayelitsha since December. Yasin Alasow, 29, a Site C Somali shopkeeper lost two of his cousins within two weeks.
The first incident took place on January 12 in a robbery at a shop in Site C. Alasow said 12 days later, at the same shop, a second family member was killed.
“The first murder was a robbery. My cousin was serving a customer when the robbers came in and tried to enter the shop. He tried to stop them by pushing the door closed. He went to the back of the shop to call for help, to my other brother, but when he came back to the front of the store the men were already in. They shot him,” he said.
Alasow said the second incident was at the same shop a few days later. An unknown number of suspects entered the shop and fired at his brother, but this time nothing was taken.
The grief-stricken man said Somali traders were being targeted and feared for their lives.
“These robbers are are out here to kill Somalis. They come to us and shoot, the situation is not good we are scared the guys are attacking us. We see them daily roaming the streets and they intimidate us,” Alasow said.
He also mentioned that the group was frustrated with police inefficiency.
“We go to the police with information and eyewitnesses but they never make arrests.”
On Sunday Somali leaders met with MEC for Community Safety Dan Plato to express their concern.
“Somali shopkeepers are very bruised and sensitive at the moment,” Plato told the Cape Argus on Sunday.
“They are of the opinion that they do not want to say much of the incidents, but have confirmed numerous people have been stabbed or shot to death, mainly in Khayelitsha.”
Plato said he would be meeting with provincial Police Commissioner Khombinkosi Jula to discuss the issues raised by the Somali leadership.
He emphasised however that the attacks on the Somali shopkeepers were not motivated by xenophobia.
At the meeting, the Somali leadership questioned why their shops were targeted in a community where there were many ethnic and national groups in business.
“Tensions are real. The shops are operating in close proximity. Shops therefore do not make real profit and it could be a case of taking certain people out of the business area,” Plato said.
He promised to continue engagements with the Somali leadership.
Meanwhile the Khayelitsha Site B Community Police Forum has urged residents to unite and has called for more police visibility.