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Somalis are caught in between a civil war and hostile streets of South Africa

By Bille Askar


It is imperative to be grateful to those of us who speak out and denounce violence each day that goes by. As someone who does not live in this part of the world I felt a sense of duty to bring this issue to the attention of the peace loving people around the world mainly to those of you who live in South Africa (SA).


Somali refugees fled from their country for obvious reasons, be that may due to the ongoing civil war, chaos, lack of security or the anarchy that has galvanized their nation. Many Somalis did not have options of choosing where to settle and pursue a happy life, for instance some family members might ended up in different countries without their consent, and one can imagine the post drama effects associated in such human displacement occurrences.


As a result, many Somali refugees made their way to South Africa, hoping to get security, tranquility and probably get jobs to sustain their lives. Nonetheless, the streets of South Africa especially in Cape Town offered robbery, intimidation, vandalization and killings to be the norm. It is a known fact that SA has one of the highest crime rates in the world but Somalis were distributed to more than their share. Moreover, a handful of Somalis are puzzled how South Africans are paying back to Somali refugees because in historical context, Somalis stood shoulder to shoulder with South Africans in their darkest moments during the apartheid and as a concerned South African, Mr. Glenn Ashton, attests in his pieceSomalis should get our respect and protection” published on Cape Times


Owing to these attacks, South Africans are armed to their teeth to defend themselves. Those who usually are the target are the new comers and those who do not afford to buy a gun and cannot register it. According to Associated Press, the last statistics available showed that between April 2004 and March 2005, 18,793 people were murdered in South Africa, an average of 51 a day in a nation of 47 million. There were 24,516 attempted murders, 55,114 reported rapes and 249,369 assaults with grievous injury. This alarming rate is well against and can jeopardize SA’s pledge to host the world cup in 2010.

Somalis migrated to South Africa as to many other countries after the collapse of Somalia’s central government in 1991. From this tragic immigration many have found themselves unfortunately in the line of fire again.


South African government is advised and knows about this dilemma that is taking place in its own back yard but has no empathy to interfere and do something about it. The defenseless Somali refugees are scared, terrified and cannot do much to alter the status quo, let alone to challenge it. We all know that South Africa is relatively new democracy and has its own challenges but this cannot be an excuse to watch the killings against the most defenseless Somali refugees to be continued. There should be something that the SA government can do to curb and stop these barbaric crimes. Most South Africans are peace-loving people and are left with no choice but to watch while rootless thugs whose prey is the helpless and people who are unable to resist attacks are hijacking their bride and dignity.


It would be a mistake to not mention the staggering number of South Africans and others who die every day, their only crime is having a dollar that they have earned so hard. This unstopping madness is forcing many immigrants to flee again to the neighboring countries where they have to start all over. South Africa has came a long way to go back to uncertainty and has the capacity and the resources to be Africa’s role model of freedom and democracy. There should be something that the government can do to address this issue. The government must be aggressive toward such crimes. What the government can do is to employ more police officers and law enforcing authorities that can help the existing law enforcing entities to fully control its streets. SA has the second highest homicide rate in the world, trailing only Colombia but it is up to the government to safe lives.


It is newsworthy to mention how the Somali people and their media portrayed then the apartheid regime in South Africa and how Somalis stood steadfastly to support their African brothers to gain their inalienable rights of self determination. Even more, Somalia hosted numerous South African immigrants and treated them with respect and human dignity, if my memory services me right here, I don’t recall anyone of them that was put in harms way let alone got killed therefore, the inaction of South Africa’s government is neither an option nor acceptable.


Bille Askar

[email protected]


The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "Hiiraan Online"

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