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 British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid