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Religious leaders call for unity with foreign nationals

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By Thakira Desai

While law enforcement continues to investigate the recent spate of killings of three Somali nationals, local religious leaders have stepped up to lead the call for unity and peaceful co-existence. The killings, which occurred in Khayelitsha’s Site C on Thursday, are the latest in a string of attacks against Somali shopkeepers. While the killings happened only minutes apart, authorities at this point in the investigation believe them to be as a result of separate incidents.

Given the violent xenophobic attacks that has shaken communities throughout the country, the Western Cape Christian Ministers Association (WCCMA) in collaboration with the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) is calling on community members to stand in unity with foreign nationals.

Western Cape Police Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andre Trout confirmed on Friday that two of the men were killed on the premises of their respective businesses, which are located in Site C, while the third victim was in Site C’s Solomon Tshuku Street.

“The first one [incident] occurred at 9:45pm – a 27-year-old man was shot and killed outside his business while he was locking his shop.”

“Shortly after that, five minutes later at a separate location, a 22-year-old man was shot and killed inside his shop and around the same time, a 28-year-old national was killed in Solomon Tshuku Street, also in Site C,” Trout said.

Speaking to VOC’s Breakfast Beat, the WCCMA’s Bishop Dr. Derek Motsolo explains that while there are differences within every community, we should be living side-by-side in peace and has, therefore, called on religious leaders from all faiths to take an active role in quelling the violence.

He confirmed that after having visited the areas of the victims, he was informed that the acts of violence against Somali nationals began in early December, 2017.

“These murders started early in December. I believe there were seven of them, including; one in hospital, one escaped and three died,” he added.

Quoting biblical scripture, the bishop further urges South Africans not to inflict harm on foreign nationals living within their communities and condemned the killings in the strongest terms.

“We appeal to our community not to kill anyone; we need to live in a peaceful country and province.”
In a bit to alleviate violence levelled at foreign national communities within the cape, the WCCMA has formed a partnership with the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC).

Meanwhile, the MJC’s 1st Deputy President, Moulana Abdul Khaliq Allie, echoing Motsolo’s sentiments, strongly condemned the attack and noted the fact that the interfaith community has taken the responsibility to address the matter in Khayelitsha.

He noted the need for the implementation of legislation and intervention that is directed toward “preserving the dignity of all foreign nationals.”

“It is also important that the foreign nationals, among themselves, is [a community] where there must also be honour, respect and dignity,” Allie stated.

Given the positive impact that foreign nationals’ work has brought into communities, Allie encouraged local residents to “preserve the dignity” of all foreign nationals. VOC

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