THREATS AGAINST SOMALI TRADERS

TENSIONS in Gugulethu are rising after the Gugulethu Business Forum issued letters to Somali-owned shops on Saturday, warning them to leave the township within seven days.

TENSIONS in Gugulethu are rising after the Gugulethu Business Forum issued letters to Somali-owned shops on Saturday, warning them to leave the township within seven days.

Somali traders went to Gugulethu police station en-masse on Saturday night to open a case of intimidation against the Gugulethu Business Forum.

The Gugulethu Anti-Eviction Campaign, which stepped in two weeks ago to mediate after they were tipped off that local businesses were meeting secretly to plan the "removal" of Somali shopkeepers, spent yesterday in urgent talks with the police.

Mncedisi Twalo of the Anti-Eviction Campaign, which last year physically prevented several xenophobic attacks against shops owned by foreign nationals, said he had asked the police to hold a deadlock-breaking meeting between local businesses and Somali traders today.

"The meeting must take place sooner rather than later because business has given the Somali traders seven days' notice. We have asked the Somali traders to convey the message that the police and Anti-Eviction Campaign are against these letters and we hope to keep everyone's tempers cool that way," said Twalo.

Twalo told Sowetan that the Anti-Eviction Campaign would work with the police "to keep Gugulethu free of chaos and without any promotion of xenophobia".

Meanwhile, Michael Sonqishe told Sowetan yesterday that the Gugulethu Business Forum had not mandated local businesspeople to issue the threatening letters.

"Not all forum members are part of that. We don't want any violence here. That is a very sensitive area and what they did was wrong," he said.

In October last year a Khayelitsha business grouping - Zanokhanyo Retailers Association - issued similar threats to Somali traders there. Zanokhanyo later withdrew their letters after the city, provincial government and Cosatu intervened.

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