‘They have destroyed my life’‚ says Somali victim of Durban xenophobic violence


‘They have destroyed my life’‚ says Somali victim of Durban xenophobic violence

Jeff Wicks | 2017-05-30 15:40:18.0

Gift Maseko outside his sister’s shop in KwaMashu, Durban. The store, run by a Somali national, was looted in riots on Monday night.


Somali national Mohamed Ali abandoned his shop in KwaMashu A-Section with only what he could carry as he watched a mob rampage through the shop he took five years to build.

“They have destroyed my life and‚ to be honest‚ I have no idea when I will be able to go back‚” Ali said after fleeing the township.

Rioters had looted his Amazambane Butchery‚ ripped a safe from the wall and prised open an ATM before clashing with police.

Violent unrest erupted in KwaMashu and surrounding townships after rumours‚ dismissed as baseless by police‚ that foreign shopkeepers had abducted children to harvest their body parts. While police and officials from the departments of education and cooperative governance have dismissed the child snatchings as a hoax and rumour‚ thousands of school children took to the streets in the township‚ saying they were gripped by fear.

TMG Digital has also learnt that one man‚ 23-year-old Sthembiso Mbonambi‚ was seemingly the first person killed in the violence. He and his brother – who is in hospital – were shot with an AK-47 while walking on a road in Lindelani‚ a neighbouring township as the violence spread.

Ali said he watched in fear as a gang moved towards him and his shop.

“I was there when they started coming inside. The people came and took everything‚” Ali said. “We were scared but now we are safe thanks to god. We had to leave the area. I have been in that shop for five years and this is the first time that this has happened. I have no idea what prompted them to do this.”

South African shopkeeper Doctor Mthembu‚ of B-Section‚ said that stores were targeted indiscriminately. Like Ali’s‚ Mthembu’s store was looted on Monday.

“I heard that they said the children were missing and that people were saying that [the children] were taken in my shop‚ so I went to the police and they said nothing was reported to them. I saw them all gathering last night [Monday] so I locked up and left‚” he said.

Mthembu said that looters used an angle grinder to cut their way into his container tuck-shop but were unsuccessful. They then resorted to ripping the roof off.

“Everything of value was taken before they set a fire inside‚” Mthembu said.

Also in B-Section‚ Gift Maseko said that he’d heard rapid gunfire outside his home where he lets a spare room to a Somalian shopkeeper.

“I called the police and they came and took the man away because people were starting to come here. They used a rock to hit the padlock and also took the roof off to get in‚” he said.

“Everything is gone‚ they even took the freezer and the stock. Inside it is finished‚” he said‚ pointing to the storefront of the Nhlanhlo Tuck Shop.

Police are on high alert in the area fearing a flare-up of fresh violence overnight.

WATCH: ‘We are afraid’: Durban youths protest after alleged abductions

– TMG Digital/TimesLIVE

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