News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Monday April 22nd 2019

Two Ethiopians shot dead in Du Noon

Peter Luhanga

Ethiopian shopkeeper Awake Ababa came to South Africa four years ago in search of peace. But on Tuesday night (24/02/2009) his dream ended in bloodshed when two men entered his shop, Rhobot Cash Store in Mnandi Avenue at about 8.30pm and shot him and his Ethiopian friend, Yonatan Gebreneske, 22, who had been keeping him company, dead.

Ababa’s final sale was an apple, which he sold for R0.50c to the men who shot him.

Another Ethiopian, known only as Abiti, who was also in the shop, escaped the bullets and was not injured.

Speaking after the killings on Wednesday morning, Ababa’s cousin Abraham Dubiyo said: “My cousin fled from home looking for peace. He did not find it. He found death.”

Before breaking into sobs he described how their family had lived in perpetual fear in South Africa. “This country is lawless,” he said.

The killings follow looting of Somali owned shops in Du Noon on February 11. Many foreign nationals temporarily left the township at the time, but had since returned.

After the killings on Tuesday night, three police vans and three unmarked cars arrived on the scene.

Police cordoned off Mnandi Avenue for several hours.

Shocked residents surrounded the shop as Somali and Ethiopian nationals sobbed uncontrollably.

Women could be seen with tears pouring down their faces and waving their hands in the air, touching their heads and pointing to about 100 people who had gathered outside.

“Why, why you stupid people killing us all the time?” one woman wailed, leading to boos from a minority in the crowd.

A witness staying adjacent to the store, who said she was in the yard of her RDP house at the time of the shooting, said she had seen two men entering Ababa’s store and soon after had heard four gun shots, followed by random shots as the men fled the scene.

“When they got out they fired several shots in the air to scare everybody,” she said.

She said she had gone to the shop and saw Ababa, who police say was in his mid-twenties, and Gebreneske lying in a pool of blood.

“I could not manage to look at the site twice. It was scary. It’s not safe to stay next to Somali owned shops. We don’t sleep peacefully,” said the resident.

Milnerton Station Commissioner Superintendent Gerda van Niekerk, who was at the crime scene on Tuesday night, said the killings had been part of an attempted robbery.

“Two Ethiopians have been killed. Two gentlemen came in and bought an apple and then they shot them. They did not take anything,” van Niekerk said.

On Wednesday morning, residents of Du Noon had started placing flowers on the ground outside the shop, which was deserted and locked.

They carried placards that read “Peace in Du Noon. Stop the killing. Stop xenophobia”.

Milnerton police spokesperson Daphne Dell said the motive for the killings had been robbery. She said one of the men had opened fire. There had been no arrests and a murder docket had been opened. — West Cape News

Tags: DuNoon, Refugees, xenophobia

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