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Not in my name: Mayfair migrants march against one of their own accused of crime

JOHANNESBURG – Members of The Union Of Arab Community SA brought business to a standstill in a fierce protest in Mayfair, Johannesburg On Wednesday, 23 September 2020, after one of their own was arrested for alleged involvement in a series of kidnapping cases in the area.

Hundrends turned out for the march in Mayfair

The suspect, an Egyptian national who owns Shisha lounges in Johannesburg, is suspected to be behind a series of kidnappings in particularly the suburb of Mayfair, popular with migrants from the Arab community.

The family had already paid a R200 000 ransom to the kidnappers Last Monday. After the arrest of the suspect, the police found an amount just below R100 000 In his possession and retrieved it. Police also confiscated the suspect’s bakkie on suspicion it was acquired from the proceeds of crime.

Arab Community members, friends and neighbours, including South Africans, devastated and disturbed By the kidnapping spree, decided to protest at the shop which the suspect was known to frequent in Fordsburg. The protesters called for an immediate shut-down of the coffee shop where the suspect and his accomplices allegedly plotted the kidnappings.

The family had already paid R200 000 ransom to the kidnappers Monday, and police found an amount that is just below R100 000 and retrieved it. Police also confiscated the suspect’s bakkie as it is suspected to be from the proceeds of crime.

Abdeslam Ahmed Habiballah addresses the marchers

Arab Community members, friends and neighbours – including South Africans, were so devastated and disturbed that they decided to protest at the shop where the suspect used to work in Fordsburg Wednesday, caling for an immediate shut-down of the coffee shop where the suspect and his gang used to hatch their kidnapping plots.

In solidarity with Arab community all shops on Mint Road and surrounding streets were closed at 3pm last Wednesday, as protestors took to the streets to denounce the acts of. criminality they said tainted the image of law-abiding migrants.

“Participation was beyond our expectations as migrants and locals combined in a serious show of solidarity in fighting crime, further enforcing the fact that crime – and indeed fighting it, has no nationality,” said Abdeslam Ahmed Habiballah, Chairperson of The Union of Arab Community SA and Deputy Chairperson of the African Diaspora Forum (ADF) , an umbrella organisation representing 35 migrants communities in South Africa,.

HabibAllah, in his address to the protesters, pledged the full co-operation of migrants to fight crime in conjunction with the South African Police Services and in support of South African citizens who were trying to stamp out the scourge. 

Business came to a complete standstill as the marchers demanded the shutting down of the coffee shop where the suspect worked.

HabibAllah said: “Businesspeople in Fordsburg are very unhappy because the kidnappings are impactIng on their businesses. Migrants are disappointed that their good deeds of contributing to the economic development of South Africa, which has given them a home, are being tainted by criminal elements whose acts have a negative impact on the image of the migrant community, something which could enforce stereotypes and discrimination against migrants.”

Posting on its Facebook page last Friday, the ADF said its Anti-Crime Commission was back in full swing with plans to involve the police, other law-enforcement agents, Community Policing Forums and local communities to weed out the criminal elements.

The communities of Mayfair and Fordsburg welcomed this protest and took note of the condemnation and actions of the Arab community and African Diaspora Forum against the kidnappings and other criminal activities.

“The arrest of the kidnapping suspect is only the start. Many others will be arrested and some of them have already fled South Africa,” said HabibAllah.

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