De Birhan Editorial: South Africa should protect immigrant businesses under attack


De Birhan Editorial 


In the course of the last few days, News reports coming from South Africa’s towns such as Soweto, Gauteng have been disturbing.The looting has since spread to Diepsloot, in the north of Johannesburg, and Kagiso, on the West Rand.Businesses owned by immigrants mainly Zimbabweans, Malawians, Ethiopians and Somalians have been broken in and looted. Reports state that it all started after a local teen was shot dead by an immigrant business owner, who was securing his shop from being looted. There are reports that many businesses that are owned by Ethiopians, who toiled much to make little in their new homes, have been left with nothing in just one day.

A large number of Ethiopians started to move to South Africa in early 1990s after the end of Apartheid. Most had traveled through the legal route. Especially, those that traveled in those days have now made good fortunes leading their fellows to follow their footsteps. They say, in those days there were few immigrants from East Africa and thus had the quick thinking and the dedication to enter into businesses that the local people did not participate. Now they own their own companies, shops and properties. As there are many, who have made it through the legal channels doing honest business, there are also many who may try to amass money through the illegal channels. Bad apples are everywhere. But these few should not be used as scapegoats, or reasons for xenophobic and anti-immigrant orientated looting and attacks.

This new spate of attacks and looting against Ethiopian owned immigrant businesses started in a new form and scale last week. Today, it has emerged that an Ethiopian shopkeeper has been shot dead in Khayelitsha. It seriously concerns us as fellow Ethiopians and members of the Diaspora spread around the world. It should be noted that there are enough Ethiopians who could stand for their brothers and sisters under attack.

Although the efforts by South African officials such as DA MP Zak Mbhele and organisations like The Jesuit Refugee Service SA (JRS) and many others, more strict and long term measures that secure the rights, safety and security of immigrants and their businesses should be implemented.

Fellow South Africans and officials should should pay heed because of the ancient relationship of the two countries; the case of Mandela’s training in Ethiopia, xenophobia is not African – take Ethiopia is now the Continent’s biggest home of refugees- and importantly worth noting is that when Ethiopians or these victims  unite and react, the consequences are going to be worse.

Therefore, South Africa please take immediate actions on people that loot the businesses of immigrants, the inciters and the victims of such actions in your country calls De Birhan!