This article discusses how violence between South Africans and Somali migrants plays out in different forms of spatial contestation, victimization and resistance during xenophobic attacks. It analyses Somalis’ entrepreneurial strategies and the implications for access and appropriation of social and economic spaces around Cape Town. The article attempts to connect Somali perceptions of xenophobia and South Africans’ claims of spatial entitlement to issues of spatial control, belonging and social inclusion in South Africa. It argues that by establishing businesses in urban spaces and townships, Somali migrants have managed to establish stronger bonds and a collective identity, which give them better control over these spaces. Although their business tactics have propelled spatial contestations in which they have become easy targets during xenophobic incursions, the clustering of businesses has also created Somali‐dominated localities around Cape Town, which facilitates rapid mobilization to respond to or to resist different forms of crime and violence.