TERRIFIED Somalis who fled their shops in Nelson Mandela Bay townships last week, have been urged to return home.
New Brighton residents went on the rampage, burning and looting Somali-owned shops, following the fatal shooting of a teenager.
The looting quickly spread to Njoli, Kwazakhele, Motherwell, Missionvale and Swartkops.
During a meeting at Struandale’s police station yesterday, township residents, Somali leaders and NGOs said a closer relationship needed to be built.
They all urged that families displaced by the violence return home.
More than 600 Somalis were displaced following the shooting of Lunje Ntongana, 19, of New Brighton. The Somali shopkeeper arrested for the alleged shooting was released from custody due to lack of evidence.
Yesterday’s meeting was attended by deputy provincial commissioner Major-General Zamthango Mki. Mohamed Ali Mire, who is from the Somali Embassy in Pretoria, was also present.
Mki told delegates the government was disturbed by the looting and that politicians demanded order be restored in townships.
"As the government we spent sleepless nights. They urged SAPS management to normalise the situation,” he said.
KwaDwesi Community Policing Forum chairman Ayanda Gcakasi also urged the Somalis to return.
"We met with our community. These are our brothers and need to be protected by all of us,” Gcakatsi said.
Somalis shop owners also informed those who attended the meeting that some residents went the extra mile in protecting their goods.
Shukra Osman recalled how an unidentified NU11 Motherwell family came to the rescue of many Somalis in the area. Three shops in Motherwell have since opened up again.
Secretary of the Civic Youths Forum in Nelson Mandela Bay, Sizwe Foley, said the community of Njoli Road took it upon themselves to protect a shopkeeper in the area.
"Residents had a meeting after the commotion. We then deployed 10 youths to guard Saveways Shop in Njoli Road,” Foley said.
A meeting of stakeholders will be held tonight.