Cape Argus, 22 January 2008

PLEASE NOTE: Readers wishing to reproduce and reference this article
should contact the editors of the Cape Argus for permission

A Somali shopkeeper has been shot dead at point blank range barely 50 metres from a police station, sending panic through the small immigrant community. Yesterday Mohammed Ali, 27, was gunned down in his shop, the Sir Lowry's Pass Superette, not far from where the railway line passes the village's main road. His devastated cousin, Abdul Aziz, said two men had burst into their store in the village near Somerset West at about 10.30am and opened fire, hitting Ali as he stood behind the counter. Volatile scenes erupted outside the store shortly after the incident not because of the shooting, but because some Somalis alleged that a policeman who arrived first on the scene had kicked Ali "like a dog", as he lay dying, and had demanded that he "Get up!". Other police who arrived on the scene said they doubted that this had happened but urged the Somalis to lay a charge, so that the allegation could be investigated. Police spokesman André Traut said yesterday that he was not aware of any tensions between the community members and police. "I would like to extend an invitation to members of the community to come forward and speak to the station commander if they have complaints," Traut said. Aziz said the armed robbers had made off with about R7 000. Traut said today the suspects were still at large. The attack comes days after the Somali community in the Western Cape formed a representative committee, the Somali Community Board of the Western Cape, "to improve its plight". Somalis have often been the target of violent criminals and xenophobic action here and in the Eastern Cape. One of the board's interim officials, Amir Sheik, told the Weekend Argus: "We are very insecure here and we elected the committee because we needed protection and we wanted to bridge the gap between the Somalis and the government."