South Africa

South Africa: Abdallah Afrah, "The bullet continued straight into my younger brother's head"

News and Press Release
Originally published
CAPE TOWN, 21 November 2008 (IRIN) - Somali shopkeeper Abdallah Aman Afrah, 35, has lived in South Africa for five years, but the death of his younger brother, Abdul Kadir Ahmed, in a robbery at their shop in the Langa township of Cape Town, has convinced him to return home. Somalis have been particular victims of xenophobic violence, with the worst outbreak occurring in May 2008.

"I was here in Langa when the xenophobia was taking place. We didn't go to one of the camps [for displaced people], but stayed with friends in Cape Town. I stayed away [from my neighbourhood] for 32 days, then I came back to the shop. Everything was fine until the night of November 9th.

"The shop was closed. About 10 [p.m.] thieves broke the gate, came inside, and shot through the door with pistols into the room where we sleep. I was bolting the door when a bullet came through the metal, passed through my arm, and continued straight into my younger brother's head. He died immediately.

"The thieves went to the till, took all our property - about R1,500 [US$150] - cigarettes, [mobile phone] airtime, and other stuff like rice, meat, coke, biscuits.

"They were [in the shop] maybe 20 minutes. My friends took me to the hospital and I'm okay. But I'm missing my brother, so actually I'm not okay.

"We went to the police and made a statement, but until now they haven't caught anyone, even though the robbers are still around here in this area. They say it's not a kind of xenophobia, but just normal crime.

"We don't know what they actually mean. We just want the police to control the peace, but they don't; and we are refugees, so we have nobody to depend on.

"For me, there's no chance to stay here. So now my other brothers and I are preparing to go back to our country. There's a war there, but that war is better than this one, because that is my country.

"If I die or am injured, it's my country. I came here for the peace, but I can't see how that's possible now. That's why I'm going [back] to my country. I'll leave as soon as I have money to go home.

"Some people say xenophobia will take place again, others say it won't. Some of them want us [to stay], some others don't. I can say that the majority of South Africans are okay.

"But I have no safety here. If I saw the government working [well], then maybe I could stay, but I see problems are [increasing], so I prefer to go back to my country. A problem at home is better than the same problem in a foreign land.