News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Saturday February 24th 2018

Arrest warrants out over intimidation letters

Two charges of intimidation against executive members of the Zanokhanyo Retailers Association are being investigated by police following Somali shopkeepers receiving letters from the association demanding they close their businesses by this Sunday. The association claims they want Somali business owners operating in Khayelitsha to close shop as a prelude to meeting with local business owners and discussing a way forward as local business owners are unhappy with the competition created by the operation of foreign-owned businesses.

Meanwhile National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc) Khayelitsha secretary Mandisi Njoli said “some” members of Zanokhayo – which is affiliated to Nafcoc – had last week been charged with intimidation and warrants for their arrest had been issued following the circulation of the letter.

However, Njoli said the members in question had hidden at a “safe place” and Nafcoc and Zanokhanyo members were holding talks with Somali shop owners in a bid to try convincing them to drop charges. He said they would be meeting with the Somalis to hear their decision. Information pertaining to the charges of intimidation emerged at a meeting on Sunday between seven Somali shop owner representatives and over 50 Khayelitsha business owners affiliated to Zanokhanyo and Nafcoc.

Talks about the charges being withdrawn were discussed in a closed meeting, whereafter Somali representative Bashir Mohamed Abidi said they had told Zanokhanyo and Nafcoc members that they would first have to consult with other Somali shopkeepers before taking a decision on whether to drop intimidation charges.

“We represent a group of people and we cannot take a decision now. We will inform Zanokhanyo members later on what we will do next,” said Abidi. Asked about whether Somalis would close their shops, Abidi said they would announce their decision on September 10. But he said: “It will be crime if other people other than police ask us to close our shops down.” He said government had given them permits to work, study or open small businesses if they wanted to. “We have rights like everybody and no one will take it from us.”

Police spokesperson Andre Traut said 48 individuals had lodged complaints with the SAPS, resulting in the charges, and although no arrests had yet been made, investigations were ongoing. Traut said his office had no record of any intentions to have the charges withdrawn and was not aware of any request in this regard. “The SAPS will not tolerate lawlessness and perpetrators can expect harsh measures of policing,” he said. He said anyone who received “letters of intimidation” were encouraged to “report it at their local police stations”.

* Reporting by Sandiso Phaliso. Published in the Cape Argus, 09 September 2008.

Tags: refugees xenophobia

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