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Somali shop traders in Masiphumelele fear for their lives after a series of attacks over the past two months left more than eight critically injured.
“It’s horrible… we are facing a really scary time,” said Abdullahi Hussein Mohamed, a shop owner and spokesman for Somali traders in Masiphumelele.
He said that in the past, robbers would come inside their shops, point a gun and demand money. But now “they come to our shops and they just start shooting. People get shot at while they are sleeping,” he said.
Masiphumelele is between Kommetjie, Capri Village and Noordhoek.
“Although we are foreigners far from home, we are living within a community and we are supposed to help each other,” said Mohamed. “We are scared but we have no choice, our children have to be fed,” he said.
When the Cape Argus visited shop owner Therie Aman, 26, this week, he had just returned from Groote Schuur Hospital after being shot three times in his hand and chest. A bullet is still lodged in the middle of his chest. “I have to go back to the hospital in a few days… I am in pain and scared… but …I have to work.”
Aman said he and his partner, Abdul Qadir Hassan, were in the shop when two young men came in. One started shooting at them. “I spent more than three hours waiting for the police, lying on the floor,” he said.
Police spokesman Frederick van Wyk said they had arranged a number of meetings with the Somali shop owners and proposed that they close at 8pm. “Instead, they close at midnight,” said Van Wyk. He said that when incidents happened, they did not call the police immediately and that sometimes, the shop owners refused to open cases.
Around the corner from Aman’s shop is the store of Shurif Ali, 32, and his brother, Mustafa, 28. Two weeks ago, they were robbed and Mustafa was shot.
He had to have surgery at Groote Schuur to remove a bullet in his chest. He was discharged yesterday.
“Last Saturday they shot at us and while my brother was lying on the floor, they took about R2 000 from the till. Now we close earlier, but… they come during the day, too,” he said.
Ali said they had stopped reporting the incidents to the police because they didn’t get any feedback.