Xenophobia 9.6.2015 10:00 am

Foreigners ‘not safe’ aftershop inferno

Bheki Shangase, owner of the property that was burnt down at Cato Crest. Picture: Phumlani Thabethe

Bheki Shangase, owner of the property that was burnt down at Cato Crest. Picture: Phumlani Thabethe

Less than a month after being assured by the government it was now safe for them to operate in Durban’s townships, foreign nationals trading in Cato Crest, outside the city centre, are once more living in fear after a Somali shop was petrol-bombed.

“Since we came back last month, we have not felt safe at all,” Osman Mahamud, a Somali business owner said. “Local people continue to threaten us. We are appealing to the government to protect us as local business people are accusing us of killing their business and are inciting thugs to terrorise us.”

Three Somalis – Ali Mohamed, Yaya Ali and Abdul Limi – had narrowly escaped death after their shop was bombed on Thursday.

The three, who were sleeping in a room adjacent to the shop when it was set alight, managed to get out before the flames engulfed the building.

“They were lucky to survive as some of the people who were attacking them were armed and had fired several shots as the shop burned,” said Bheki Shangase, the owner of the property which the Somalis were renting.

“Everything inside the shop was burnt to ashes.”

Shangase blamed local tuck hop owners for the incident. “They made it clear in community meetings they wanted all foreign nationals operating businesses to vacate the area. I’m certain it is them who have hired criminals to burn down my property,” he said.

A few weeks ago, Shangase said, unknown people had written threatening messages on the wall of the shop. “They were threatening to burn down the shop should the Somalis continue to operate.”

eThekwini municipality spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa said the city had conducted several workshops with local traders as part of reintegration processes following April’s xenophobic violence.

 

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