Media: Traders to distance themselves in peace bid

3 07 2009

July 01, 2009 Edition 1

Caryn Dolley – Cape Times

IN an effort to keep the peace between the two groups, local and Somali traders in Gugulethu today plan to start moving their stores so they are at least 100 metres apart.

It is not yet clear how long the process will take or how many shops need to be moved.

The relocation of stores is one of a few ideas local traders have suggested to try to ease tensions between themselves and the Somali traders, who they feel are taking business away from them.

Yesterday, Mncedisi Twalo, spokesman for the Anti-Eviction Campaign, which has joined forces with the traders’ groups to try to ease tensions between them, said the relocation of some shops would start today.

“We’re going to start implementing the 100m suggestion… this means that from (today) the shops must be a distance of 100m from each other. We’ll start in the afternoon and see how it goes.

“Everyone, the locals and Somalis, is in agreement, so they all know what’s going to happen and are willing to go ahead with it,” Twalo said.

Other suggestions locals had made to ease tensions were that the Somali shopkeepers increase the prices of their goods to match the South African traders’ prices and that no other traders be allowed to set up stores in the area.

Twalo said once the relocation of stores had been completed, the traders would then look at whether the Somalis were indeed willing to increase the prices of their goods.

“We’re first getting this one step done. Then we’ll look at the other plans,” he said.

Yesterday, Mahad Omar Abdi, of the Somali Crisis Group and representing the traders, said discussions about the increasing of prices would continue with the SA traders.

“We must still come to a concrete decision. We don’t want to increase our prices and we won’t let this decision be made for us. We will carry on with discussion but we will remain firm,” he said.

About a month ago, tensions between the local and Somali traders came to a head when a a group of South Africans delivered a letter telling the Somalis they had a week to leave the area, failing which they would be driven out.

An interim committee, comprising five local and five Somali traders, was set up to deal with these tensions.

No further acts of intimidation have been reported in Gugulethu.

But in Franschhoek last week, locals stoned four Somali-owned shops in the area in a clash police said stemmed from a dispute over food prices.

Abdi said locals wanted the Somalis there to increase their prices. No other similar incidents have since been reported in the area.

caryn.dolley@inl.co.za

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