Media: Get out of Philippi or else, Somali shopkeeper told

2 06 2009

June 01, 2009 Edition 1
Quinton Mtyala
Source: Cape Times

A SOMALI shopowner in Samora Machel in Philippi has complained to police that local “business people” have threatened him, telling him to leave the area by today or face the consequences.
Police say this is not an indication of xenophobia, but of business rivalry, although they acknowledge receiving a number of such complaints at the weekend.

Assad Sadha, 21, said a group of more than 20 men came to his shop last week to deliver the ultimatum.

“They told me to close my shop by (May 31) and promised that they would be back on June 3 to check whether I had complied,” said Sadha.

During last year’s xenophobic attacks, which spread from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Samora Machel, a poor area of informal and low-cost houses, was one of the flashpoints and many refugees and migrants who fled the area refuse to return.

Sadha, however, returned after a month as the violence had died down.

Of the ultimatum, he said: “I asked them for (another) place where I could open my shop, instead they told me that they were businessmen and didn’t want to see me in the area any more. I don’t know what I’ll do now.

He was planning to open his shop today but did not know what to expect as his South African neighbours had not re-assured him after he told them about the threat.

“I went to the police and they gave me an emergency number to call should anything happen,” said Sadha.

Ntomboxolo Sitshishi, speaking for the Nyanga police station, said investigators were not treating the threats against Somali businessmen in the township as a resurgence of xenophobic violence but as business rivalry.

Abahlali baseMjondolo (Association of Shack-dwellers) held a public meeting in Gugulethu, claiming similar threats had been made to Somalis in that township.

Gugulethu police said they had not been told of threats to Somali businesses.

quinton.mtyala@inl.co.za

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