A Pakistani national and his South African wife say they face daily threats from their Somali shopkeepers in the Nomzamo community in Strand. Saeed Abbas and his wife opened a shop at a small shopping centre in the area, where they sell cellphone accessories and provide repair services. In recent months, Abbas said a number of Somalians also trading in the area, have intimidated the couple into closing their shop. The humble store generates a low income for Abbas, who takes care of his wife and two year old son.
“We cant live like this. Almost everyday there are Somalians coming to our shop and threatening our lives if we don’t close the shop,” Abbas said.
The threats have increased in recent months but Abbas said he will not budge. The reason for these acts of intimidation stems from a long power struggle in the area. According to Abbas, there are a large number of foreign nationals residing in Nomzamo, most of whom own shops.
“In a recent community meeting, we were told by South African residents in the area that all foreign nationals will be afforded a certain amount of shops which they can open and trade from in the community. This is to ensure that there is an even distribution of profit and that we do not get into conflict with each other,” Abbas said.
Abbas added that since this decision has been taken up, he receives constant pressure from Somalians due to the competition.
“They want us to close shop so that they can make more money. This is not fair. We are also living here and my wife is a South African. They [Somalians] act as if they are in their own country. They do not follow the democratic laws of South Africa,” Abbas added.
Butt Saab from the Pakistan Association of South Africa said he has received a number of complaints from other Pakistani expats in South Africa and has launched an investigation into the allegations. Abbas opened a case against the accused Somalians at the local police station but little has developed since then. Saab said he will be in contact with police and work toward ensuring the safety of Abbas and his family.
But the Western Cape coordinator for the Somali Association of South Africa (SASA) said he had not heard of the allegations before and encouraged complainants to come forward and address the Somali community about the incidents.
The religious leaders of the Somali community will then address the issues and individuals involved and seek a more civilised resolution to the problem. Mohamed Aden Osman from SASA said Somalians are devout Muslims and are not known to act in a vindictive nature. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)