Media: Somali traders are welcome in Gugs, says community

18 06 2009

June 16, 2009 Edition 1
Francis Hweshe
Source: Cape Argus

TENSIONS between South African and Somalian shopkeepers in Guguletu have eased, at least temporarily.

Local traders apologised to their foreign counterparts after a letter purportedly written on behalf of a group calling itself the Gugulethu Business Forum called for Somali shopkeepers to pack up and and leave the area within seven days.

It is still not clear who was behind the letter, as locals for the most part refused to speak to the media at a meeting yesterday which was attended by Somali and South African traders, the police, the Anti-Eviction Campaign and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ Cape Town representative.However, police spokesman Captain Elliot Sinyangana said after the meeting: “They (local traders) have apologised. They said they were not going to do it again; they said they acted under a lot of pressure.”

One Guguletu resident, a South African, condemned the threat contained in the letter, calling it “a wrong and ill-informed decision”.

“The people of Guguletu are not against Somalis. It’s a small group of people doing it,” the man said.

One of his friends, a business owner, had earlier been ap-proached by that “small group” to join in the threats, but had refused, he said.

The letter, a copy of which the Cape Argus has seen, is signed: “Yours in the struggle.”

After yesterday’s meeting, held at the Guguletu Sports Complex, Sinyangana said a 10-member working committee consisting of five Somali traders and five South African traders had been established.

This committee was due to start working today and would be exploring ways in which the two groups could work to-gether.

The committee is expected to hold a feedback meeting on Thursday.

Mncedisi Twalo of the Anti-Eviction Campaign acted as a mediator at last night’s meeting.

“It was tough talk, but I’m happy with the outcome,” Twalo said.

Abdi Ahmed from the Somali Association of South Africa swaid: “We are very happy. We have been fighting for this for the past two weeks. We have problems as traders but there are solutions.

We just need to live together as brothers, side by side.”

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