Author: Karin Brulliard
12 October 2008
Washington Post Foreign Service
Mohammed Rage lived here among the dusty tents outside the nation’s capital for one month. At 48, the Somali shopkeeper was considered an elder among hundreds of immigrants who sought refuge in this government-run encampment after brutal attacks against foreigners spread through South Africa’s slums in the spring.
This week, a photo of Rage’s dead body, splayed over splotches of blood on a white mortuary table, was offered by those he left behind as proof that they could not leave, even though the camp was being shut. He had returned to his looted shop in June, they said, and got shot in the chest.
“I am afraid that everywhere I go, I will be killed,” said Rage’s son, Abdullah Mohammed Rage, 24, clutching the photo as government-deployed security workers used crowbars to tear down nearby tents made of blankets and wooden planks. “In South Africa, there is no place safe.”
Five months have passed since more than 60 people were killed in anti-foreigner beatings and burnings that shocked a nation that touts diversity. Thousands of immigrants moved to about 10 refugee-style camps that seemed incongruous in Africa’s most developed country. In recent weeks, the government has torn most down, saying the neighborhoods are safe again.