Somali gangs’ battles spill over into streets
Fatal shooting of Sallah outside shop in Port Elizabeth brings to light seedy underworld of internal skirmishes
South African communities where people live and trade are being affected by Somali gangs involved in skirmishes within their own community.
Somali Board of South Africa general secretary Abdirizak Ali Osman, warned that his organisation was aware of gangs operating in their community, with a number of people already being killed as a result.
This follows a shootout in a busy Durban Road in Korsten, Port Elizabeth, a popular spot for commercial and non-commercial traders, where a young Somali man was shot and killed after an argument, sparking fears of retribution.
CCTV footage obtained by Times Select shows about five people shooting at one another.
Mohammed Sallah, 25, was fatally wounded in the incident.
The attack on Sallah, which happened just after 6pm on October 27, was captured by shops’ CCTV cameras that shows a man firing into the air. Three others then emerge from the shop to retaliate.
PE police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu confirmed the shooting, saying no arrest had been made.
Osman said similar incidents were happening frequently in Cape Town and Gauteng, and has now spilled over to PE.
This has prompted intervention by the board.
An insider at the Somali United Community of South Africa, said the reason that Somalis were attacking and killing one another was widely unreported because it involved the paying of blood money.
“Back home in Somalia, if you kill someone you pay what is called compensation; we call it ‘blood money’.”
“And when one is killed, they don’t report that to the authorities. Instead, they meet to discuss compensation and if the family agrees, the money is paid to the grieving family,” the man said.
“The problem is our elders are still using that system. In the area of Port Elizabeth we’ve lost about five or six Somalis who have been killed by their fellow-countrymen.
“This is rarely reported to the police. The other killings are armed robberies in the period of 2015 and 2018, which have made this numbers go up,” said the source.
“This blood money is a tradition we are used to and in this community they are killing each other freely as they know that they will pay and it will go no further. But this is another country; laws are different,” another trader in PE, John Abdulaye said.
He said the two prominent gangs were called Rahanwayn and Mareehan.
“When these two gangs clash, blood flows and families are left without their breadwinners.”
This was confirmed by other Somali residents in PE.
Businessman and spaza shop owner, Mohamed Nur, claims about 20 people have been killed in two years since 2016 in PE.
“The Somali people are fighting each other; we are fighting in a foreign country. Since early 2016 to date about 20 people have died. Go to Malabar cemetery, you will find many Somalis buried there.”
Osman said they held a conference two months ago where a number of issues, including gangsterism, were discussed.
“A meeting with the community elders was held and a number of issues were discussed and we are working with police authorities to resolves these issues. We can say now that the problem is not as bad as before,” Nur said.
He would not go into the details of the discussions. “We doing best to work with communities in resolving these problems we are facing.”
However, Naidu could not confirm other similar murders in PE except to say: “Sallah was shot several times by the three suspects who fled the scene.
The reason for the argument and fatal shooting is unknown at this stage and he succumbed to his injuries in hospital. The suspect is known and an arrest is imminent.” – Times Select..