‘Get out or lose everything’



April 20, 2016
‘Get out or lose everything’

Somali's collecting what is left of their possessions. CREDIT: Ayanda Ndamane

Shop owners live in fear as they’re threatened by locals

Foreign nationals in Dunoon say their homes are now being targeted as locals try to force them out of the area.

Some foreigners, who remained in the area after hundreds of others fled amid fears of xenophobic attacks, say locals broke in and robbed their homes on Monday night.

A group sharing a dry loaf of bread – their only meal for the day – outside a looted shop say they lost everything, even their passports.

Nigerian Emmanuel Ibeaubuchi, 34, says he slept outside after his home and that of his neighbour’s were broken into.

“They broke in, stole the TV and other appliances and threatened to tear it down with us inside if we don’t leave,” he says.

“But we don’t have anywhere to go and have no choice but to stay, even if it’s outside.

“We don’t have food and we are sitting here starving and nobody is helping because we are seen as enemies.”

Dunoon erupted in violence on Sunday night when protesting backyard dwellers, angered by the City of Cape Town’s response to their housing demands, went on the rampage and turned on foreigners, looting their shops.

The protesters handed over a memorandum to the City two weeks ago, demanding that land in Dunoon be made available to them to build houses.

The City on Sunday told them there was no land available.

Yesterday, small groups of foreigners could be seen huddling together near their empty shops to try and protect what was spared by looters.

They tell the Daily Voice their safety depends on them sticking together because there is “safety in numbers”.

The City suspended MyCiTi bus services in the area, after several buses were stoned.

A South African living in Dunoon has condemned the marauding looters, and suggested protesters target “big businesses” instead to get government’s attention.

The resident who asked not to be identified says: “Once the sun goes down and the police stand on the main road, everything goes to hell.”

“I do not agree with what they are doing, the foreigners don’t build houses and should not be targeted.

“There is the MyCiTi station, there is Shoprite and Pick * Pay, big business that will make the government sit up and listen, but they are left alone.

“Now I have to walk far for airtime or bread or risk sending my children out there when it’s not safe.

“But we can’t really speak out, we are scared of being targeted because they now come to our homes if we dare speak out against them.”

Yesterday, the violence spread to neighbouring Klipheuwel, where incidents of looting and vandalism of electrical cables and an ATM machines were reported by the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety, Alderman JP Smith.

In Dunoon, Somali shopkeepers hastily packed up their remaining possessions under the watchful eye of patrolling police.

Rubble littered the streets, with only a handful of locally owned shops open for business.

Somali Hassin Omar says: “I’m only here to guard what’s remaining of my shop, and to protect the shelves and the small things before leaving.”

“We can’t reopen the shops because we are still scared and have no funds. But we are disappointed in the conduct of police who do nothing to protect our shops but stand by the bigger supermarkets out there.

“We are leaving here and never coming back, we don’t want to be sitting ducks.”

But others don’t have that luxury and say they will remain in Dunoon simply because they have nowhere else to go.

Kan Saeed, 22, from Malawi is sleeping in his car near the beach.

“This is no way for us to live when we have done nothing to these people,” he says.

“We have been here for years and made to feel like we are part of the community, we contribute when necessary but as soon as things go bad then they suddenly see us as foreigners.

“We lost everything, including our passports, but we won’t leave.”

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