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Cape Town - Attacks on Somali businessmen were under the spotlight in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday when three men were found guilty of 22 charges including murder, attempted murder, robbery and kidnapping.
The men - Siphwo “Karas” Ndede, Zukisani “Big Nuzz” Mnyamana and Masithandaze Khabiqheya “Cheese” Xontelo - left a trail of death and destruction over 22 days in February 2012. Their crime spree stretched from Atlantis to Thembelethu near George.
Additional crimes included possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition and theft of a motor car - a case in which the driver was shot in the scrotum before his car was taken.
On Tuesday, Mohamed Aden Osman, of the Western Cape Somali Association, appealed to the court “not to show any mercy” to criminals undermining Somalis’ rights. He was testifying in aggravation of sentence for the murder of shopkeeper Llyaasi Mahamed.
Judge Vincent Saldanha commended the State for its work in tracking down the three men, saying there was a perception that attacks on foreigners were not taken seriously.
The court had heard from Faran Waberi, 26, who worked with Mahamed. He said on February 26, 2012 he was woken at about 1am and watched as the three men approached the shop. He woke his colleagues, and heard shots fired as the robbers tried to push the door open. Waberi was hit in the leg while another shot hit Mahamed.
The three men stole airtime vouchers and R1 000 in cash. Waberi saw Mahamed lying bleeding on the floor. The robbers fled.
Earlier on Tuesday, Captain Johannes Theron, of the Thembelethu police station, said of the 19 cases of business robberies in Thembelethu in 2011, 18 were reported at shops belonging to foreigners.
In the first two months of this year 10 house robberies were reported - eight of which affected foreigners with shops, and seven of those cases involved firearms.
Asked why he though foreigners were being attacked, he said he believed they were “soft targets”, and because they were not familiar with the people in the community they could not identify perpetrators in ID parades. “Maybe it’s also because they are seen as people who have money.”
All three men were convicted of the murder of Mahamed, three counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances, and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition. In addition, Ndede and Xontelo were convicted of the theft of a bakkie.
Mnyamana was also convicted of robbery with aggravating circumstances in the theft of a car, kidnapping and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.
The sentence proceedings are set to continue on Wednesday. - Cape Argus