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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' 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.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs