Saturday, May 31, 2008

'I really hate your country'

Well, I don't. So f**k off to you mate.

I have sympathy for your terrible experience at the hands of a small group of black South Africans.

Apartheid was about separating that group from the rest of us that want to work, contribute, and be productive – black, white and brown.

You have the right to be disappointed but you do NOT have the right to insult my country.

What happened recently is NOT South Africa.

It is an aberration that should never have happened but it did because of the policies of a terrible government - not South Africans.

If you had said, “I hate the ANC and the SA government”, ok. But you can f**k off when you insult my country.

Nobody invited you here. You didn’t ask permission to come to South Africa. You are an illegal entrant in MY country. You have no right being here much less pass judgement on MY country.

F**k off to that Somali paradise you come from and take your f**king mates with you. You know the way. Just look north for a shithole and start walking.

- - - - -

Somalian Muhamed Barre is bitter about his neighbours in Khayelitsha looting his shop and threatening to kill him.

“I was behind the counter in my shop when my neighbour came in. I’d lived next door to her for six years and we were friendly. She started doing that dance … toyi-toyi you call it.

“I said: ‘Hey, sisi (sister)! You must sing when you dance!’ She looked into my eyes and shouted: ‘Hamba kwerekwere, hamba (go, foreigner, go).’”

So began Somalian-born Muhamed Barre’s terrifying ordeal in Khayelitsha’s Site C last Friday night. At least 30 Somali-owned shops were closed in the township, most after being looted.

The neighbour’s sinister dance was the trigger for an invasion.

“So quickly, the other people and children picked up from her and then they started breaking and looting and also shouting ‘hamba kwerekwere, hamba!

“I know everybody who looted. They were my neighbours; some lived across the road. I gave sweets and chips to their children. I sometimes did their shopping for them. I lent them money.

“A woman across the road asked: ‘Where’s this man? We must put him six feet under tonight’.”

Barre is no newcomer; he has run a spaza shop in Site C for 13 years.

The store was open seven days a week, sometimes from the early morning until 11pm.

Twenty-four hours after foreign traders were chased out of Du Noon in Milnerton and their shops looted, his was one of the first in Khayelitsha to be hit.

Barre fled to the back of his shop. “People became more and more crazy and they started breaking up the whole place; I ran outside where a police vehicle was parked.”

As the rioters, some with knives and metal poles, turned their attention to his house, he says the police were largely inactive.

“A woman walked past one of the policeman with a big 15kg of [looted] sugar. She lost her balance and the policeman helped her to get a better grip on the sack. He laughed when she said thanks and danced away.”

“The cop asked me: ‘Do you want me to save your life?’ I said: ‘Please, please, they’ll kill me.’ He opened the back of the van and said: ‘Get in kwerekwere; I save you.’”

At the police station he found other Somalis who had taken refuge. There he phoned his former wife, a South African living in Delft.

“She cried over the phone saying I must not worry about our boy. She said I must please not come to Delft because I will be killed and her house will be burned.”

“What will happen to my Faizel? He looks like me. He’s also a Barre.”

In addition to his house and store, Barre lost R40 000 worth of stock.

Possessing just his resident’s papers and the clothes he is wearing, he is now effectively interned at the refugee camp at the Youngsfield army base in Wetton with 1 400 other foreign nationals.

Hugging himself against the icy north-wester, he now has less than when he left Somalia.

The army has erected rows of brown tents and banned the media. A Muslim relief organisation feeds the fugitives twice a day.

NGOs coordinated by the Treatment Action Campaign and helped by the state’s disaster management service say the refugees desperately need medical and other assistance.

Barre wears a green plastic armband bearing a number which he must display if he wants to move around the base. Between 7pm and 5am, no one may leave or enter.

“We’re trapped,” said Barre. “We can’t use the railway because we’re told we’ll be killed and thrown off the trains. We’re scared of the taxi drivers. What can we do, madam?”

In an outpouring of bitterness and fear, Barre described South Africa as “a kind of hell”.

“I hate this country. Some of the black people in this country behave like animals.
They’re cruel and uneducated and can’t even show on a map where Somalia is. They’re too lazy to work. They want to sit down and be fed and looked after by the government. I created jobs through my shop. I worked very hard and tried at all times to be a good neighbour. But now I really hate your country and I’m sorry for feeling like this,” Barre said.

The official policy in Cape Town is to reintegrate the fugitives into the communities from which they were driven. But Barre, like many others, has no desire to return.

He has lost all trust in South Africans.

“We buried more than 50 of my countrymen in Cape Town in 2006. The government did nothing. Now people are talking about reintegration -- how will that work?

“They want me to go back and sleep next to the people who wanted to kill me! You can’t change the hearts of people so quickly.

“Even the kids in this country hate us. I want to go back to Somalia, even though there’s a war there.”

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