• Friday, Nov 22, 2019
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Over 400 Bangladeshis murdered in South Africa in 4yrs

  • Published at 08:29 pm October 1st, 2019
WEB_ South Africa Bangladeshi
Scrap metal collectors prepare to transport a shell of a car after it was burnt during xenophobic attacks that took place earlier this week in Johannesburg, South Africa, September 5, 2019. Reuters

The Bangladesh High Commission in Pretoria said none of Bangladeshi nationals were involved in that violence

More than 400 Bangladeshis have been murdered in South Africa over the past four years because of business and personal disputes within the community, government officials said yesterday.

A wave of deadly attacks on foreign workers in South Africa in recent weeks has cast a spotlight on the country's record.

The Bangladesh High Commission in Pretoria stated that no Bangladeshi nationals were involved in the recent violence.

Instead, the Bangladesh high commissioner revealed most of the deaths were over business and money disputes, extra-marital affairs, and other personal arguments.


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The high commission said the bodies of 88 Bangladeshi migrants had already been repatriated this year, and 452 since January 2015.

"Approximately 95% of those who died here were murdered, mostly shot dead in their shops," a high commission official said.

High Commissioner Shabbir Ahmad Chowdhury said the number killed could be far higher, as many families do not report the deaths.

"Many are buried here. It is therefore uncertain to tell the exact number of dead," he told AFP.

Shabbir said most Bangladeshis "hire local hitmen" who carry out killings to settle disputes.

A shop keeper watches as a fireman douses down a burned and damaged property after overnight unrest and looting in Alexandra township, Johannesburg, South Africa, September 3, 2019. Reuters

"Quite a lot of Bangladeshis have been shot dead, but we don't report them, let alone seek justice, because many of us live here illegally," Abdul Awal Tansen, a top Bangladeshi community leader in Johannesburg, told AFP.

Bangladeshis started migrating to South Africa in the early 2000s and today an estimated 300,000 live there - many illegally - making them one of the largest Bengali diaspora.

Bangladeshi media has reported how young men pay traffickers up to $12,000 to get to South Africa.

Thousands own grocery shops across the African nation.

Scores of Bangladeshi-owned shops were attacked in the recent anti-immigrant violence, community leaders said.

"They often see us as their competitors. We are not taking their jobs yet they attack us with guns," one migrant, Khalil Mia, told AFP.

The high commissioner said the high commission has urged South African authorities to take action against illegal migration and crime.

"They should be more strict on these issues," he said.

A foreign ministry official in Dhaka said despite the murders, a growing number of young Bangladeshis still try to get to South Africa illegally.

"It is hard to stop the surge of fortune seekers," he said on condition of anonymity.