2015-05-07 06:00
PHOTO: ian carbutt

Ethiopian refugee Tagesse Letabo with a photograph of his brother Etebo Kabede who was shot dead in his shop on Thursday night.

PHOTO: ian carbutt Ethiopian refugee Tagesse Letabo with a photograph of his brother Etebo Kabede who was shot dead in his shop on Thursday night.

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ASSURED that the attacks on ­foreigners had ended, two men returned to their homes, only to be ­murdered.

The murders, which happened on Sunday and Thursday nights, have sparked fear among refugees living in Pietermaritzburg and surrounding ­areas.

The attacks came after a march against xenophobia was held in ­Pietermaritzburg last Thursday.

The family of Ethiopian refugee Etebo Kebede (42), who was shot dead in his shop in Imbali on Thursday night, said they were not surprised to learn he had been murdered.

His brother, Tagesse Letabo, said they had lived and worked in South Africa for a number of years and opened a small tuck shop a few years ago. Letabo said his brother was ­well known and hard-working. ­However, the pair had received a ­threatening note from a rival shop owner a few weeks before the shooting.

“The note said we should leave our shop and return to our own country, and if we did not, they would first burn down our house and then kill us.”

Last Thursday, with the brothers not closing their doors, two armed men approached the shop.

“He was on the phone with me when the men came. He told me not to come to the shop, then the call was cut. Now he is dead,” said Letabo. It is understood that Kebede was shot through the metal security bars intended to protect owners. Nothing was taken.

Letabo said he would not return to the shop as he feared for his life, but he could not leave South Africa either, as he did not have the money to get back to Ethiopia.


SAPS spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane said no arrests had been made and that the incident could not be ­confirmed as a xenophobic attack as it was still under investigation.

The second attack on a foreign national happened in Greytown late on Sunday night when Congolese refugee Lumona Ziko (37) was stabbed and killed outside his home.

Ziko escaped his war-ravaged country four years ago for a better life in South Africa and settled down in Greytown, where he became a popular hairdresser.

However, he was attacked and beaten in March, and moved to a refugee shelter in the area when looting and ­xenophobia erupted across the country.

Long-time friend and Congolese ­refugee spokesperson Moses Kilozo said the shelter was approached five days ago by community leaders and councillors, who said those who wanted to be reintegrated into their neighbourhoods could leave, as the looting and attacks had ceased.

Four days after being reintegrated into the community, Ziko was killed.

Zwane repeated that the ­murder could not be labelled xenophobic as investigations were ongoing.

“Asylum seekers and refugees are scared to leave the shelters and be ­reintegrated into the communities,” said Kilozo.

“People are angry. They do not understand the circumstances under which refugees have arrived in South Africa.

“Some of our countries have been ravaged by war - we cannot return. ­Rwanda is receiving nearly 1 500 refugees from the Congo a day. It is not safe there. There is civil war.”

Many refugees coming to South Africa had nowhere else to go and chose this country because of its “Rainbow nation” reputation he said.

“If we cannot stay here, where else is there?”

Somali community spokesperson Mohamed Abdiwalli agreed with Kilozo and said he was more afraid of returning to Somalia than of remaining in South ­Africa.

“We all have to work together. We need to create a community dialogue where we refugees can show South Africans where we come from and how much we have suffered, and that we come here purely to seek refuge.”

He said the refugees were often ­doctors, lawyers and other educated people just looking for safety for their families and were not trying to steal jobs from anyone.

They appealed to the government and community and religious leaders to start a programme where communities are taught about refugees’ hardships

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