Somali traders fear purge in Western Cape

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In a new outbreak of xenophobia, some 200 Somali traders in South Africa’s Western Cape reportedly received letters from a local business group telling them to close their shops by Sept. 21 or face physical violence.

In a new outbreak of xenophobia, some 200 Somali traders in South Africa’s Western Cape reportedly received letters from a local business group telling them to close their shops by Sept. 21 or face physical violence.

The letters, from a chapter of the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry, seen by local media, were sent by a group from Khayelitsha, operating as the Zanokhanyo Retailers Association.

Nafcoc insisted the letter “has nothing to do with Nafcoc nationally. It’s a local campaign, and we are not part of anybody evicting people from the townships.”

But Nafcoc’s Western Cape secretary, Mandise Njoli said: “We’re all members of Nafcoc, and we are dying here, my sister. These people work for two cents, and when we complain about the unfair advantage, then we’re called xenophobic.”

Sydwell Citwa, chairperson of Zanokhanyo Retailers, who signed the letter, echoed Njoli’s sentiments.

“These people come into the country with nothing and the next minute they have stocked shops and fridges. We’ve done our research and we know that the Muslim Judicial Council is helping them because they’re Muslim.”

“We are the ones who fought for freedom and democracy, and now these Somalis are here eating our democracy,” Citwa said.

Xenophobic attacks displaced about 20,000 foreign nationals in the Western Cape. About 1,400 remain in camps in Cape Town resisting reintegration because they say they fear for their lives. Somali traders moved back into Khayelitsha after anti-foreigner upheavals in May, when the Western Cape government promised it was safe for them to go back.

Special to the NNPA from GIN

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Copyright 2008 NNPA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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