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[LISTEN] Calm Returns to Korsten after Violence between Taxi Drivers and Somali Businessmen

Oct 15, 2021

Staff Writer

Calm returned to Korsten township in Gqeberha on Thursday, following violence on Wednesday, which saw 12 vehicles and 3 shops torched. “Property was destroyed, there was arson, cars burned, shops burned, firearms brandished, some of them fired. Police will have to find all the people that committed crimes,” said police minister Bheki Cele, who visited the area on Thursday.

The violence followed an accident between a taxi driver and a Somali motorist in Durban Road, Korsten. Following the incident, it is alleged that reinforcements were called in by the taxi driver, following which the motorist’s Audi was burnt. Somali businessmen also joined in.

Meetings aimed at de-escalation have since occurred, and calm has returned, with Somalis calling for de-escalation. Further, Cele has since sent police reinforcements into the area, which is now largely quiet and deserted, as shops remain closed and taxi numbers remain reduced.

Speaking to Radio Islam International, Abu Ahmed noted that the violence only commenced after reinforcements were called in by the taxi driver. He further noted that it was difficult to identify who committed the torching and arson, since both locals and Somalis had by then become involved. However, he did note the need for de-escalation, arguing that Somalis were treated well, and that meetings between Somalis and taxi associations had since occurred. Muhammed also disputed the allegation that Somalis fired weapons during the clashes.

With unemployment and the lack of service delivery at an all-time high, immigrants are often blamed for ‘taking’ South Africans’ jobs and placing pressure on social service provision, especially in a context where this violence is being fuelled by the rhetoric of some opposition politicians. This has meant that Somali’s have often been targeted during bouts of xenophobic violence, which have in recent years been frequent. This incident does not seem to have fitted that pattern, and was quickly quelled. However, there always exists the possibility for a spark to be lit and fuelled by such incidents.  No arrests have since been carried out over the violence.

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