16-month-old Ethiopian baby the latest victim of xenophobia in South Africa


Happy KebedeSOUTH AFRICA (iol) – A bullet to the head while she lay in the arms of her mother ended the life of baby Happy.

The 16-month-old infant was resting on her mother’s chest when they were both shot and killed in what is believed to be an attack on foreign nationals in Ekurhuleni townships.

The incident happened on Sunday night when Wangore Kebede took his family to Everest in Springs to collect a shipping container from which he operated his shop.

“He wanted to find a new place for it because people were complaining,” said Ramadan Ibro, interpreting for him.

His wife Vigist Chufamjo, baby daughter Happy and Vigist’s brother had left a church in Dunnottar, Springs, with Wangore in the afternoon to fetch the container.

Around 9pm, while the family was at the container, shots were fired at Wangore and his wife’s brother.

“It was dark and they could not see who was there, so they ran away,” said Ibro.

Once out of sight, the shooters turned to the bakkie that was parked on the other side of the container.

“His wife and child were sitting in the vehicle when they were gunned down,” said Ibro.

Vigist was shot in the chest and Happy in the head.

When Wangore returned to the bakkie, he rushed his family to hospital. Happy died on the way, while Vigist was declared dead on arrival.

On Sunday, friends and family gathered at a relative’s house in Dunnottar to mourn their loss.

The family are now trying to raise money to send the bodies back to Ethiopia for a proper burial. Kebede’s family believe the murders were related to recent attacks on foreign nationals in Ekurhuleni.

“We all used to stay in Duduza and tried to make ends meet. What will happen to us after this?” asked Yannas Solomon, one of the foreign businessmen who had been targeted. The Ethiopians have been living in Dunnottar for four months after being displaced from Duduza.

In August, a teenager was shot by a Somali businessman, resulting in attacks on all foreign-owned businesses in Duduza.

In October, the Johannesburg High Court ordered the Ekurhuleni municipality to address the plight of victims of xenophobic violence after Somali, Bangladeshi and Ethiopian communities in Duduza and surrounding townships suffered attacks between August and October.

The attacks resulted in around 200 shops being looted and 800 foreigners displaced.

Ayob Mungalee, of the People Seeking Justice Action Group, said they would be moving the foreign nationals back to Duduza in a week’s time.

“They are not aliens, they have documents and live peacefully,” he said.

Mungalee believes the attack is part of an ethnic cleansing where specific foreigners are targeted.

“We will not hesitate to protect their lives and properties,” he said.

Springs police spokesman Captain Paul Ntsane said a murder docket had been opened and investigations were continuing.

No arrests had been made.