Somali's turn to HRC as murder toll soars

Somali refugees have turned to the SA Human Rights Commission for help over a string of attacks on traders that is claiming dozens of lives.

After three murders this week, the toll for August has reached 26. This follows 21 similar killings of Somali traders in July.

Meanwhile another human rights group is seeking to help improve security for the traders.

The regional head of the HRC in the Western Cape, Ashraf Mohamed, confirmed commissioners had met Somali refugees.

The Somalis felt they were not being given enough protection and had sought information about the basic right to safety and security.

"They (Somalis) are not convinced it is xenophobic attacks," Mohamed said.

The police reject any suggestion that the attacks are part of a deliberate campaign to drive the Somalis out of township trade.

"We have explored the perceptions they have and went into details about what has happened in these attacks," Mohamed said.

The commission would hold a seminar on the issue next Tuesday.

The Somali traders were incensed that the police had not made arrests after the murder of three of their number on Sunday and Monday.

Now the SA Inmates and Ex-Inmates for Human Rights organisation has offered to help.

"We want to offer help in the form of seeing to the safety and security of Somali businessmen," said the chairman of the Inmates for Human Rights, Abduragiem Booth.

"We want to see if we can form a business chamber for the Somali traders."

Booth wants to meet leaders of the Somali refugee community in the metropole.

He said that "a few local businessmen, especially in the Muslim community, are concerned about the murder of Somali traders".

Attackers killed three traders - Sugow Salah, Siyad Shukri and Guled Abdul Nur - in Khayelitsha and Mfuleni early this week.

Somalis have also been killed in Khayelitsha, Delft, Stellenbosch and other Cape areas.

But the police argue that crime affects both locals and foreign nationals.

"What we have seen is that robbery is the motive," said Community Safety MEC Leonard Ramatlakane.

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