The Union of Arab Community of South Africa has distanced itself from the actions of one its members after an Egyptian national was arrested for his alleged involvement in a series of kidnapping cases in the Mayfair area.

Members of the organisation brought business to a standstill during a protest in Mayfair last week after the man was handcuffed by police.

The Egyptian national who owns Shisha lounges in Johannesburg, is suspected to be behind a series of kidnappings including that of Hamza Khan, the son of businessman Riaz Khan.

Speaking to Radio Islam, 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 Abdeslam Ahmed Habiballah says the kidnappings are very disturbing.

Habiballah says they have made a pledge to work with South Africans and the police hand in hand on behalf of the Arab community and the African Diaspora to fight crime.

“The Arab community, they distance themselves from this criminal and condemn in the strongest terms what’s happening especially in Fordsburg/Mayfair.”

Also speaking to Radio Islam, social activist Abdur Rahman Rickey Nair says he is not surprised the spate of kidnappings in the Fordsburg/Mayfair area.

“What has been happening in our area over the past few years doesn’t come as a surprise, although it’s sad. It’s sad that it’s happened right under our noses by people that we welcomed into our areas as our Muslim brothers and sister. We’ve opened up our doors, our homes and I am sad this has had to happen and be perpetrated by our own Muslim people.”

Habiballah says while Fordsburg businesses are unhappy that kidnappings are impacting their business, migrants are disappointed that their contribution to the economic development of South Africa, which has given them a home is 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 them.

Mr. Abdeslam Habiballah Ahmed
Social Cohesion Advocate
Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture
Deputy Chairperson of African Diaspora Forum (ADF)
Executive Chairperson of: Union of Arab Country Communities of SA (UACSA)