South Africa: UN Rights Chief Urges Protection For Foreigners After Brutal Killing
New York, Oct 7 2008 10:10AM
The top United Nations human rights official today condemned the brutal killing of a Somali family in South Africa, and
urged the authorities to take immediate action to protect foreigners from any further attacks.
Sahra Omar Farah, her two teenage sons – one of whom was deaf – and her 12-year-old daughter were stabbed and bludgeoned
to death last Friday in a shop run by fellow Somalis in a village in the Eastern Cape, according to a news release
issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Ms. Farah’s body was reported to have been stabbed over 100 times, and initial signs suggest that both she and her
daughter may have been subjected to sexual assaults.
“I strongly condemn these murders of a defenceless family, apparently simply because they were foreigners,” said High
Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay.
“Xenophobic attacks unfortunately occur regularly in quite a few countries, but this is one of the most vicious examples
we have heard of recently, outside of war zones.
“Somalia is currently in a deplorable state, with conflict raging – especially in Mogadishu, where this family is
believed to have come from – and there is huge displacement and suffering. To find safe haven in a country like South
Africa, only to be brutally murdered a short while later, is beyond tragic,” she stated.
Last Friday’s incident is the latest in a series of attacks targeted against foreigners living in South Africa. In May,
tensions related to the large-scale influx of migrants and refugees into the country erupted into several days of
attacks on foreigners that left over 60 people dead and more than 15,000 displaced.
Ms. Pillay noted that Somali traders and shopkeepers have been a particular target, with another three Somali
shopkeepers murdered since last Friday in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.
“There appears to be a dangerous pattern of targeted attacks on foreigners, especially, but not exclusively, involving
Somalis,” Ms. Pillay said. While she welcomed the arrest of three suspects in the attack, the High Commissioner called
for concerted and long-term efforts by authorities to prevent such violence in the future.