Somali Traders Arming Themselves To Defend Against Cape Town Gangs

South Africa2_2

Somalian traders have been arming themselves with illegal weapons to defend themselves against gangs of ruthless robbers in Cape Town`s townships.

Twelve of them have been killed in Khayelitsha alone – one of the largest townships in the province – in the past three months, according to Abdi Ahmed, a spokesman for the Somali Retailers` Association. “Our people are dying like dogs, and the government is doing nothing to stop it,” he said.

Three Somalis and an Ethiopian were shot dead in their stores in a 24-hour murder and robbery spree. Police discovered that a 9mm pistol was used in all the attacks between October 22 and 23.

Now the area has been flooded with illegal guns as the traders arm themselves.

Provincial police spokesman Colonel Billy Jones refused to divulge how many illegal weapons had been seized in the area.

The killing spree in October claimed the lives of Hassan Mohammed Essa, Hoesein Mahamud Arale, Abduragman Ali and Tegesa Ababo.

The Sunday Times has established that detectives and the Visible Policing Unit, tipped off that shopkeepers were arming themselves, have since raided Somali stores. They recovered five illegal firearms and arrested five Somalians.

One of the weapons was, according to SAPS (South African Police Service) records, listed as having been destroyed in the Eastern Cape. Yet the 9mm pistol was found in the possession of a Somalian, Abdiriskh Mohamed, 28, who had been in the country for only 14 days when he was arrested.

Said Ahmed: “We don`t condone or encourage the actions of the men, but we understand their desperation. We have to protect ourselves. We didn`t come to this country to commit crime. We came here to escape the killing in our own country.

“There are many Somali shopkeepers who have been shot more than once. The wound from the first shot doesn`t even have time to heal before they are shot and robbed again.”

One of the shop owners who survived two shootings, who wanted to be known only as Mahmoud, this week showed the Sunday Times the graves in Salt River cemetery of fellow countrymen.

The police blitz started on October 26 at Mazola Cash Store in Kuyasa, where a 7.65mm pistol and ammunition were found. The gun was reported stolen in November last year. Abdulah Weheliye, 56, was charged with possession of an illegal firearm.

On October 28, Aden Ismail Mohamed, 24, was arrested at Rwantsama Cash store in Enkanini, in Harare. They confiscated a 9mm pistol and ammunition. The pistol was stolen in a housebreaking in the Strand in June 2008.

On the same day, police held Abdulah Omar, 25, for possession of illegal ammunition at African Cash Store in Endlovini.

At Siya Cash Store in Enkanini, police found a 9mm pistol with its serial number filed off. Mohamed Dayah, 36, was arrested. Mohamed Omar, 29, was arrested at African Shop in Endlovini.