How I escaped death
CAPETOWN-Ali Daud, a Somali shopkeeper, thought he would die when three robbers recently entered his shop in Delft and stabbed him several times on his right thigh. Speaking to Africa witness on Wednesday, Daud said he thought it was the end of the world for him. “The robbers stabbed me three times. I fell on the ground bleeding profusely. They mercilessly carried out all the items in my shop.”
Prior to the attack, local businessmen sent warning letters to foreigners, pushing them to close their shops in the township or regret the outcome. “I wish I had adhered to their warning. If I had, I could have spared myself the pain and trauma I suffered,” he said. In the attack he lost over R25, 000($3,400) in stock and was confined to a hospital bed for two months
This is one of many similar incidents the South African Media has reported of late amid growing concerns that not enough is being done by authorities to stem the tide of attacks. “Somalis are not doing businesses in the townships because of choice. We are there because it is cheaper to start a business compared to starting one in the Central Business District where the rent and start up capital is very high,” Daud Ali explained.
Sheikh Abdi Rashid Afi, chairperson of the Somali Community Board of South Africa (SCOB) in the Western Cape said attacks on Somali’s are usually initiated by local businessmen who are jealous. “Local businessmen can not stand the competition with the Somalis. Instead of competing for the market, they opt to hire gangsters to kill or loot Somali owned shops,” the cleric said.
Meanwhile, the Somali Retailers Association said over 25 Somali shopkeepers have been killed in the townships around the Western Cape this year. This appears to be part of co-ordinated attacks, targeting Somali shopkeepers through out the country. Earlier this year in the township of Motherwell in the Eastern Cape, 55 Somali owned shops were looted while three were burnt down.
Police spokesperson André Beetge said the attacks on Somalis were started by local businessmen. “We can describe it as business rivalry. People say businessmen in these areas were complaining of too many shops owned or run by Somalis and they were causing their businesses to close,” the police publicist revealed, emphasizing that the attacks are not xenophobic.
Despite the jealousy harboured by local businessmen, the foreign traders are favored by township residents because they sell goods at cheaper prices. “I prefer buying from Somali shops because they are cheaper compared to our locally owned spaza shops,” said Lerato, a resident of Mfuleni Township. She viewed the Somali spaza owners as people who have brought a service closer to the people. “I used to walk for a long distance to buy groceries, but now there is a Somali shop just behind my house,” she said.