News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Thursday June 20th 2019

Somali dies in Cape Town petrol bomb blaze

Paramedics attend to a Somali shopkeeper who was badly burned after the shop he was keeping was petrol bombed on Tuesday night. A Somali teenager who was helping him died in the blaze. Photo: Sandiso Phaliso/WCN

Spaza Shops kept by Somali foreign nationals in parts of Philippi closed on Wednesday after a Somali-owned shop was petrol bombed on Tuesday, resulting in the death of a Somali teenager.

A fellow shop keeper suffered severe burns.

But community members have distanced themselves from the incident, claiming the perpetrators were criminals after the shop’s money and xenophobia was not a motivating factor.

Police spokesperson Ntomboxolo Sitshitshi confirmed the incident.

She said at about 9pm on Tuesday police were called to a scene where a 17-year-old Somalian national “was burnt to death”.

The teenager died gripping the locked barred door to the interior of the shops while his fellow Somali, found unconscious inside the shop, had the keys in his right hand.

“People heard a blasting sound and on investigation they saw that the house rented by Somalian nationals was burning,” said Sitshitshi.

“When police arrived on the scene the 17-year-old was already burnt to death and another 21-year-old was rushed to hospital with burn injuries.”

She said police are investigating cases of murder, arson and attempted murder.

Sources interviewed at the scene who wanted to remain anonymous said a group of about five men stood at the counter of the shop for a few minutes on Tuesday evening and after arguing briefly with the shopkeepers, threw a bottle of petrol through the counter bars.

Moments later they lit a match and threw it inside the shop before fleeing on foot.

“We tried to douse the fire by pouring water inside the shop. We could see both the Somalis burning and crying for help. We threw buckets of water to them to try save them but our attempts failed.

“We believe the people who have done this were criminals who were trying to rob the shop and because the shopkeepers might have refused they were set alight. We condemn what happened,” said a resident.

Ward councillor Xolile Gophe, who was at the scene on Wednesday morning, described what he saw as “inhuman”.

“It seems the people who have done this planned it beforehand and waited for the right time to attack,” said Gophe.

However, Mohamed Nassib, another foreign national who has a shop in the nearby informal settlement, said he and other Somali nationals heard about the incident immediately after it happened and closed their shops before going to investigate.

“We saw the burnt body. No one seemed to know what had happed. We are deeply saddened. The police must do their investigations thoroughly so the truth may come out,” said Nassib. – Sandiso Phaliso, West Cape News

Tags: cape town, City of Cape Town, Ntomboxolo Sitshitshi, philippi, somalia, xenophobia

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