Several Somalis have allegedly been killed in South Africa’s Western Cape Province in the past few weeks in what appears to be an escalating campaign of xenophobic violence.
South Africa already struggles with some of the world’s highest rates of violent crime, and is home to immigrant groups from throughout the continent. But Somalis in this region say the killings – as well as a string of brutal robberies and assaults – reflect a growing national trend fuelled in part by destitution and prejudice.
Community leaders in Cape Town and Pretoria say at least 5 Somalis were killed past two weeks.
Police said they couldn’t confirm the figure because records are not typically organized by the ethnicity of the victims. However, police said they have begun investigating individual cases and are attempting to verify whether the violence is part of a broader pattern.
“If you look at our refugee communities over the past three months, you can clearly see that the Somali community is being targeted,” said one South African police who declined his name.
But personal accounts of individual Somali immigrants in South Africa illustrate the collective sense of vulnerability that pervades the community.