News / Africa

Somalia Calls on South Africa to Protect Immigrants

Somalia Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid listens to a question from the media in Mogadishu, October 6, 2012.
Somalia Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid listens to a question from the media in Mogadishu, October 6, 2012.
Anita Powell
Somalia Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon is calling for South African President Jacob Zuma to take urgent action to prevent more violence against the Somali business community in South Africa. The call follows deadly attacks the past week against foreign business owners in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. 

Somali shopkeeper Abdi Ahmed died in the worst way imaginable, according to his brother Issa, who stumbled upon his dying brother shortly after they were attacked by a mob last week in the South African city of Port Elizabeth.

"His body was mutilated," he says. "There were wounds from knives, stones, and machetes."  He says, "you would not think he was killed by human beings.  My brother was killed by animals; he looked as if he was eaten by a hyena, not human beings."

Ahmed is one of dozens of Somali shopkeepers who have been targeted in South Africa recent months.  The Johannesburg township of Diepsloot also recently saw violence against Somali shopkeepers.

This killing and others like it in South Africa has prompted Somalia’s prime minister to call on South African President Jacob Zuma to intervene to protect the community.

President Zuma’s spokesman did not answer calls seeking comment, but the youth wing of his ruling African National Congress has condemned the attacks and called for action. 

"I think there needs to a serious education that happens with our communities, especially, that we have always been seen as being an integrated society.  A well-integrated society is part of Africa.  And I think that is the education that we need to bring about, and also try and encourage our people and educate them to actually be tolerant," said ANC Youth League spokesman Bandile Masuku.

Braam Hanekom is director of the non-profit group People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty.  The group works to protect and promote the rights of all refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in South Africa.

Hanekom says the Somali community is definitely often targeted because they set up cash businesses in poor areas, but he disputes newspaper accounts that referred to the killings as a "genocide."

"It is true that there has been a really a shockingly high number of Somalis who are being murdered by criminals and targeted.  Sometimes there are clear indications that competitors are involved in the assassinations and murders and lootings, muggings.  But to classify it as a genocide is quite a harsh terminology, because the attacks are very much to do what Somalis are doing rather than what they are,"  Hanekom said.

Port Elizabeth resident Dino Jilley has lived in South Africa for nearly half his life and is provincial chairman of the Somalia Association in South Africa.  He says South African police are largely not to blame.

“Ninety percent of the policemen, they are not happy what is happening and they are fighting 24 hours day and night," he said. "They are not happy, they are doing their job.  But you will get 10 percent who say, ‘Ah, at the end of the day, you are a foreigner, you come to this country, you must expect the consequences, you must expect whatever problem will face you, we have got nothing to do.’  But the majority, I would say - because I grew up in this country - the majority I would say, the police are working, working hard and trying to do their job."

And in some ways, Hanekom noted, the problem also lies in Somalia.  The nation has been in a state of violence and chaos for more than two decades, prompting refugees to flee in droves.

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid