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'Kayamandi Thugs Are Targeting Somali Shopowners'
By Caryn Dolley
Stellenbosch, South Africa, April 4, 2006 – A Somali has been shot dead and robbed of his cash, bringing to at least five the number of Somalis robbed this year in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch.
Police have noted a trend in robberies targeting Somalis in the informal settlement since September, according to Ruben Klassen, spokesman for the Stellenbosch police station.
Ahmad Alasow, 45, was shot in the head and chest by three men while he and a friend were shopping in the Somali-owned Siyazama Cash Store on Saturday.
Alasow's friend, a 35-year-old Somali, was wounded in the stomach.
The armed trio robbed the two friends of their cash and fled.
Alasow's friend was taken to hospital.
"Since the beginning of this year (six) Somalis have been robbed, four of whom are shopowners, but this is the first time a Somali national has been wounded or killed," Klassen said.
"The residents of Kayamandi do target the Somalis who live there."
There were fewer robberies of stores owned by other residents of Kayamandi, Klassen said.
The trend has spotlighted the xenophobia that foreign nationals endure in Western Cape townships.
The Agency for Refugee Education, Skills, Training and Advocacy said yesterday that it received on average 20 complaints a week about xenophobia in the Western Cape.
Klassen said that of about 20 000 people living in Kayamandi, about 1 000 were from Somalia.
"Most of the Somalis own or work in these little shops to earn money and it's they who are robbed most often," he said.
"Unfortunately, they don't lay charges. They inform us of the robbery, but when we arrive they tell us they won't lay charges. They let us know they were robbed by people who live here, but that's it.
"We also have difficulty in getting witnesses to speak to us, so it's difficult for us to track who's behind this. It's almost as if people are too scared to speak to us."
Ashraf Mahomed, manager of the Western Cape Human Rights Commission, said if a formal complaint was made to it about xenophobia in Kayamandi, it would take immediate steps to expose the culprits.
"If there is a pattern of crime against Somalis and a complaint is lodged with us, we will definitely look into it.
"We take the issue of xenophobia extremely seriously and if investigations are done and a problem is identified, we will take all the necessary steps."
The Cape Town Refugee Centre was aware of xenophobia in Kayamandi, said a member of staff who asked not to be named.
He said the centre was planning to investigate.
It intended to go into the area to ascertain the scale of the problem and determine ways in which it could help, he said.
According to Charles Mutabazi, a project coordinator with the Agency for Refugee Education, Skills, Training and Advocacy, xenophobia is "a big issue in Cape Town and its surrounds".
"We receive about 20 complaints a week relating to xenophobia," he said.
"Things such as name-calling and the targeting or isolating of individuals from other countries are all part of the complaints we receive."
Source: Cape Times , April 04, 2006