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Cape Town - Two Somali shopkeepers have accused Nyanga police of breaking into their shops and stealing airtime, cigarettes and money. But the police said they were searching for an illicit firearm.
The owners of AMCCK and Aljazeera in Better Life, Philippi, have accused four policemen of police brutality.
Muhammad Jamal, owner of AMCCK, said he received a call from one of his staff telling him to return to the shop because policemen were at the door demanding they open the store. He said that by the time he got to the shop two policemen were trying to open the door with crowbars.
“They told me to open and I refused, asking if they had a warrant. Then they grabbed me by my arm and put me in the van.”
Two other Somalis were arrested along with Jamal and the police allegedly left with airtime worth more than R1 000 and cigarettes.
Jamal said this was not the first time this had happened. Last month, the same policemen had allegedly taken R1 000 from the till. “It’s always the same people,” Jamal said.
Provincial police spokesman FC van Wyk said the police had been at the shop in search of a firearm which they had been told was being kept at the shops. He said: “Two suspects were arrested for interfering with police, and the third for counterfeit goods.”
Jamal was released on Wednesday and was told that there were no charges against him.
Omar Ali, owner of Aljazeera, said his store had also been robbed by the police. “They told me they were searching for a gun. I told them there was no gun and opened for them and they took 35 packs of cigarettes and R200.”
Ali’s shop is less than 200m from Jamal’s store.
Van Wyk said shop owners were welcome to lay a criminal charge against the four police officers.
Residents said they were unhappy about the incidents and were losing trust in the police.
“These Somali shop owners help us. They rent from us and that is how we make ends meet. Now if the police are going to abuse them, why should we trust police,” said Ntombekhaya Shawuta.
Community representative Buyile Mzela said this was not the first case of its kind and he and other residents were planning to visit the Philippi East station commander to lodge a formal complaint.
Shawuta, who witnessed the incident, said she had reported the matter at the Philippi East police station and was referred to the Nyanga police.
Cadet News Agency