SA Imports Somali `Silent War`”
South Africa is playing host to an ethnic civil war that claims the lives of Somalian nationals daily.
In the Eastern Cape, Somalis of rival ethnic groups are waging what some call a “silent war”, “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing”.
Nearly 100,000 Somalis live in South Africa and more than 200 enter the country daily, according to a Somali official working for the department of home affairs.
“We`ve got warlords who enter this country undetected. Some of them are here on a mission,” said the official.
In a two-month investigation, the Daily Dispatch found Somalis in the Eastern Cape battling each other for business territory and South Africans being roped in to assist.
An alleged hit list of Somalis to be killed by their compatriots has been sent to East London police for investigation. The police confirmed receipt of the “hit list”, but said they were unaware it could be part of the battle among Somalis.
Yusuf Ibrahim, spokesman for the East London branch of the Somali Association of South Africa, established to advance the interests locally based Somalis, confirmed the existence of a hit-list.
“We also know that there`s a hitman in the country from Zambia. The problem here is a misunderstanding within us, the Somali community,” said Ibrahim.
Ethnic tension pits those of Ethiopian origin, better known as Ogadenes or Somalian Ethiopians, against those who consider themselves authentic Somalians.
Somalia`s civil war started in the early 1990s when traditional leaders attempted to oust the government. Rebel group Al Shabab later took over the country, imposing Islamic law. Many of those against it were killed or fled.
Most Ogadenes in South Africa are staunch Muslims and see those who fled as defying Islamic rule.
At the heart of the fight over who is entitled to recognition as authentic Somalis is the right to claim asylum status.
Somalis use asylum status as a ticket to establish businesses that have spread in villages, townships and informal settlements throughout the country. The department of home affairs is expected to prioritise asylum seekers from war-torn countries. But Somalis told the Daily Dispatch the department was giving Ogadenes asylum status as authentic Somalians.
Ogadenes feel they have a right to trade in South Africa regardless of their asylum status.
A departmental employee, of Somali origin, said its screening process was “flawed” and fuelling ethnic clashes.
In the past two years, over 100 Somalis in the Eastern Cape have allegedly been murdered in hits.
Port Elizabeth and East London have over 400 graves of Somalians murdered in recent years. Somalians say they were killed by Somalis or hired hitmen.
Thousands of illegal firearms have been bought to fight this war.
Somali human rights activist Mahamoud Abdi Diiriye said hatred between the two groups was fast leading to “genocide in a foreign country”. Three Somalis a week were “killed silently” in South Africa by trained Somalians and hired locals paid from R5,000.
Eastern Cape police spokesman Brigadier Marinda Mills said: “There are fights between these people, mainly for business territory. About the war, our teams have not discovered anything.”
Gepos Bon Carolyne Ahiambo Ngara – vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika
- State Criminality: Under Darkness in the Somali Region of Ethiopia (freedomfororomo.wordpress.com)
- Under Darkness in the Somali Region of Ethiopia (counterpunch.org)
- Somali Women Cashing in on Business (deackduale.wordpress.com)
- 14,353 Somali refugees return home since January: UNHCR (nzweek.com)
- Somali journalist killed by gunmen (bigpondnews.com)
- Somalia: Thousands of people still looking for relatives (newstimeafrica.com)
- ‘Five dead’ in Somali courts attack (bbc.co.uk)
- Somali judges need protection from Islamist rebels: rights group (sdmas.wordpress.com)