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Archive for September 2011

Has the South African Government done enough to fight Xenophobia?

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Somali nationals in Cape Town carry the casket of Abdi Mohamud, a fallen countryman, killed in Philippi Township on Saturday.

By Hassan Isilow

This weekend was yet another grieving one for the Somali refugee community in the Western Cape. Three of their nationals were murdered in robberies at different Townships around Cape Town. According to activists working with Somali refugees in Bellville, the first Somali national was killed at his shop in Kraaifontein on Tuesday. The second was also gunned down in a robbery at his shop in Khayelitsha on the outskirts of Cape Town on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, the third was killed on Saturday, while delivering goods at a shop in Philippi Township. The deceased was identified as 30 year old Abdi Mohamud. According to family sources, Mohamud was shot while offloading goods at a shop in Philippi.

“After he was shot, he ran to his bakkie and attempted to drive off, but the robbers followed him and continued shooting at him until he died inside the van,” Mohammed Ali, a relative related by telephone.

In recent crime statistics Philippi Township was categorized as the most dangerous place to live in, with the highest murder cases in the country. Efforts to contact the Police in Phillippi for a comment where fruitless as no one answered the phone.
On a related note, activists working with Somali refugees in the Western Cape report that there had been relative calm in the region for the past three months, leading to a welcome reduction in the attacks on Somali nationals. The last major attacks on Somali shopkeepers were recorded in May and June when over 25 Somalis were killed in different Cape Townships.

Somali traders claim they are deliberately being targeted around the country, mainly because of business jealousy from local traders. They also believe that xenophobia is still behind the opposition they face from community leaders. “Many local community leaders still believe that foreigners are here to take jobs from them,” said Sheikh Abdi Rashid Afi of the Somali Community Board (SCOB).


In June an independent peer review report released found that Government was in denial about xenophobia. “The elevating group felt that the south African Government is not doing enough to address the issue of xenophobia and pointed out that there is even an element of denialism on behalf of some officials,” the report titled, Implementing the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Views from Civil Society’ stated.
The report was released by the AMP Monitoring Project to the Pan African Parliament in June. The AMP is run jointly by the SA Institute of International Affairs, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project. South Africa’s last peer review report – the South African Implementation Report II (SAIR II) – in January 2011, stated that Government did not pay enough attention to xenophobia.

“It is noteworthy that SAIR II devotes a whole section to xenophobia, which introduces further responses from Government to xenophobia and acknowledges the role of civil society in taking a lead on the issue. However, it is poorly written with inadvertent repetition and was clearly assembled in a hurry,” the document stated.

A wave of violence against foreigners swept through South Africa in May 2008, leaving at least 67 people dead and tens of thousands displaced. Since then, several reports of pockets of violence against foreigners in different parts of the country have surfaced in the media. The report gives South Africa’s dealing with xenophobia a red rating, which means “no progress has been achieved on addressing the issue; or very little progress has been achieved and the Government does not seem to be on track to complete it in the near future”.


Written by africawitness

September 26, 2011 at 11:30 am

Posted in Xenophobia

Sharing Eid with Orphans

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A child draws during the orphans day organised by Islamic Relief SA in Johannesburg -photo Hassan Isilow

These two beautiful ladies entertained the children during the orphans day in Johannesburg-photo Hassan Isilow

A guest hugs an orphaned child during the orphans day organised by Islamic Relief SA( Photo Hassan Isilow)

Normally orphaned children feel the pain of not having parents whenever religious festivities such as Eid and Christmas approach. This year I was privileged to celebrate my Eid in Cape Town, where a group of generous community members in the Ryland’s estate took in twenty young orphaned girls from Habibia children’s home.

According to Ghairunisa James, a child youth care worker at the home; each child was taken in by a generous family who bought them new clothes and plenty of gifts.

Ghairunisa expressed her excitement that host parents treated orphaned children just like their own.
‘‘We try our best as a home to ensure the children are always happy and well-behaved’’ Ghairunisa related.

In a related development, two weeks ago humanitarian organisation- Islamic relief, made little hearts happy when it hosted a special function for orphans in Johannesburg. The day provided great excitement for more than 100 children as they interacted with each other and community members. Some children played soccer; others painted their names on T-shirts, while others drew pictures.

Fatima Carim, marketing manager for IR, said the event was organised to make the children feel special and loved. The children were later treated to a special meal together with donors who came to attend the function held at the Nana Memorial Hall. “We invited over 128 donors to come to the event. Today was an outstanding and overwhelming day for us,” Carrim said, adding it was heart-warming that many of the donors brought toys for the children and played with them.
Muslims are required to love; assist and treat orphaned and abandoned children like their own.

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Written by africawitness

September 8, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Posted in Xenophobia

Meet Johannesburg’s poorest

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A young girl carry’s a bowl of soup at Riverlea informal settlement, near Johannesburg (Photos Hassan Isilow)

A group of disadvantage people line up to receive soup and bread in Riverlea informal settlement.

Enjoying the meal(Photo H.Isilow)

By Hassan Isilow

On a cold Sunday afternoon August 14, I was invited to record a video-documentary for a community organisation in Mayfair, a suburb of Johannesburg. when i arrived at the venue i found a convoy of vehicles loading food meant for disadvantage people living in Riverlea informal settlement, south west of Johannesburg. I was told by the press officer of the organisation that I would be traveling with him in a BMW, but I declined the offer and choose to travel on one of the trucks carrying drums of hot soup and bread.
After travelling for just 8 minutes from the more affluent homes in Mayfair West we approach a potholed, narrow road; an indication we have arrived at our destination.
Excited children run towards our convoy of vehicles with mugs and bowels ready to collect hot soup which is distributed daily in the area by Feed the Needy Foundation, a community organisation.
In a matter of minutes, hundreds of people gathered in queues to receive bread and soup. Businessman and community volunteer, Abdurrahman Nair, tells me, he has been distributing soup and bread to informal settlements on behalf of Feed the Needy Foundation for many months.

‘‘We feed the poor for entirely God’s pleasure. Most of the money we use comes from our pockets and a few donations from businesses and the local community’’ Abdurrahman revealed.

He said they have been supplying Soup and bread to several poor individuals living in the informal settlement since the beginning of the year. What impressed me most were the volunteers’ giving out soup and bread. Some of the volunteers knew the names of the children and residents coming to receive the hot meals. Some of the volunteers played with the children and also gave them sweets.

I asked my self, ” if every man helped his neighbour then who would need help’

Written by africawitness

September 8, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Posted in Xenophobia

SA-Swazi loan a waste

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King Mswati and his daughter ( photo by )

By Hassan Isilow
The South African Government should have stood its ground by insisting the Swazi monarch, King Mshwati III, first accepts democratic reforms before bailing him out financially. This is according to the Swaziland Solidarity Network.
Spokesperson Lucky Lukhele blamed the financial crisis in Africa’s last absolute monarchy on the king.
“The economic meltdown in Swaziland is because of the king’s lavish lifestyle. And believe me; he is going to pocket half of the money he has received from South Africa.” Lukhele told Africa Witness in an interview.
Last month the South African Government offered a R2.4billion conditional rescue package to the kingdom which raised the ire of many pro-democracy activists. Some activists threatened to march to the Union Building in Pretoria to protest about the South Africa bail out. Lukhele said he had received information from Swaziland indicating the Queen Mother had hired a private jet to take her on holiday to Mauritius, along with 30 of her friends.
“I received information that the Queen mother had hired a private jet on Wednesday after South Africa offered the kingdom R2.4 billion. We condemn the South African Government because we believe they had blundered. They should have first put conditions on Swaziland before giving them the money, but now that they have given them the money, I’m certain Swaziland won’t institute any reforms.”

The Swazi king is becoming increasingly unpopular with many of his subjects insisting that he steps down. Besides his spendthrift ways, his polygamous life style – he has 13 wives, each of whom owns a palace – has not endeared him either.

SA response
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Wednesday that South Africa could be in a tight spot if Swaziland does not honour the terms of a R2.4 billion loan, which include political reforms. “I think that Swazi authorities understand that they’ve got to deliver… within the agreed upon timelines and clearly the South African government would be placed in a difficult position if those timelines are not abided by,” Gordhan told the media.
This comes after government confirmed that it has granted Swaziland a conditional loan from the country’s Reserve Bank to the Central Bank of Swaziland. The loan will be made available in three equal trenches, with the first payment at the end of August, the second in October and the final payment in February 2012. The minister said negotiations of the loan had been in good faith, adding that “it is South Africa’s anticipation” that the money would be used properly and not squandered in what some many term as opulent spending.
The loan is granted on condition that Swaziland takes on confidence building measures, which is guided by an agreement on the establishment of a Joint Bilateral Commission for Cooperation (JBCC) between the two Governments. The JBCC promotes democracy and good governance.

Additional reporting BUANEWS

Written by africawitness

September 7, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Xenophobia

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