Definitive measures needed for safety and protection of Nigerians in South Africa

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It has become routine attacks on Africans, especially the Nigerians in South Africa for more than a decade now. The past and present governments seemed not to have taken the attacks seriously hence the attacks continue to grow in scopes, casualties and destructions.

This could be seen in the number of loss of lives and properties the Nigerians suffered in the recent attack by the some belligerent South Africans.

Nigeria has played and is playing its benevolent part as a big brother. This should be recognized and she should be treated as such.

And as a Nigerian saying goes: The teeth dog uses to play with her puppies are the same she uses to bite them.

Let it be a warning to the people of South Africa and the government, Nigerians will not continue to tolerate such attacks. President Cyril Ramaphosa should take a decisive measure to curb the attacks.

Below are some related media reports of the recent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in the country.

NEWS 24 REPORTS: 'Enough is enough', says Nigerian govt over violent attacks in South Africa

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's government on Tuesday summoned South Africa's envoy and said it would dispatch a delegation to Pretoria to express "deep concern" over attacks on Nigerians.

The decision came after mobs descending on business hubs and townships in various parts of South Africa, looting dozens of shops and torching trucks driven by foreigners in a surge of anti-migrant sentiment.

Buhari "has noted with deep concern, reported attacks on Nigerian citizens and property in South Africa since August 29, 2019", his presidency said in a statement.

The president ordered the foreign minister to summon the South African envoy to get a brief on the situation, expressed Nigeria's displeasure, and get guarantees for the safety of its citizens and their property.

A special envoy from Buhari would also arrive in Pretoria on Thursday to convey his displeasure to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The Nigerian government said on Twitter it would not tolerate further attacks on its citizens. "The continuing attacks on Nigerian nationals and businesses in South Africa are unacceptable. Enough is enough. Nigeria will take definitive measures to ensure safety and protection of her citizens," it added.

South Africa is a major destination for economic migrants from the southern Africa region, with many moving from neighbouring Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in search for work.

Foreigners, including Nigerians, have been repeatedly targeted in South Africa in recent years.

At least seven immigrants were killed in 2015 when South Africans went on the rampage burning and looting shops owned by foreigners.

Nigeria-South Africa relations: Xenophobia as new apartheid

 In an OPINION by Segun David captioned Nigeria-South Africa relations: Xenophobia as new apartheid, and published in Nigeria’s PUNCH, the writer said in part that there have been repeated and constant attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals in South Africa. These attacks which first started in the late 90s were infrequent and occasional, but they have now become regular and seem systematic. Other nationals often targeted include the Somalis, Ethiopians, Malawians, Zimbabweans, Namibians, Zambians, Tanzanians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Mozambicans.

While facts and figures as to lives and property loss are not well-established, an estimated 118 Nigerians have lost their lives over the years and millions of Rands in property have been lost as well. In the current attack, as reported, a car dealership shop belonging to a Nigerian was burnt down over the night of September 1, 2019.

The usual refrain by South Africans is that foreigners are taking “our jobs”, “our women” and that Nigerians are “criminals” who sell drugs and engage in shady deals. The underlining drivers are however economic and a benign belief of superiority in values and perhaps, race which creates a tendency of repulsion to black foreigners. Evidence clearly suggests there are no jobs in South Africa and Nigerians are not pivotal in the drug networks. StatSA Quarter 2 report shows that youth unemployment in South Africa is 56% and this is the highest on the continent. A recent study by the Institute of Security Studies finds that Tanzania, Mozambique and Kenya networks are the dominant drug networks in the South Africa heroine market which they transport through the East Coast channel through Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Bay to the hinterland. The negative perception against Nigerians has persisted despite these facts possibly because our way of life and our numbers generally make us visible.

The South African Government has shown lack of interest and prefers to issue platitudinous statements after each episode. It is obvious these xenophobic attacks will continue for obvious reasons.  The attacks serve good political purpose. There are serious governance challenges and the political-economy outlook is not clearly positive. The poverty level is worsening and the growth achieved pre-1994 is weakening. For instance, power is now epileptic in many parts of the country. More importantly, these attacks seem ‘victimless’ to the government since its citizens are not the victims, and they serve as a decoy that buys time on its governance issues.

Xenophobic Attacks not the ideals Mandela fought for

Nigeria’s Meterowatch Online reported that Nigeria’s VP Osinbajo condemned in strong terms the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa saying it ran against ideals Mandela fought for, and a betrayal of the key role Nigeria played to liberate the country from apartheid.

The Vice President says, “Let me say first that these recent attacks are condemnable. It is very sad and very unfortunate that the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians living in South Africa are once again being destroyed with such wantonness and with such carelessness and recklessness.

“It is unfortunate because Nigeria and Nigerians invested a great deal in the destruction and the pulling down of apartheid. Besides, these acts of bigotry are entirely contrary to the very ideals that all the great South African leaders including the present President fought for, and for which many gave their lives. 
“Mr. President has already spoken about this and obviously we are very concerned and certainly intend to take this up with the authorities in South Africa in order to ensure that this sort of thing does not repeat itself. This is absolutely unacceptable and unconscionable.”

Nigerians online reject attacks on South African businesses

  Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban reports: A cross section of Nigeria’s Onlines has criticized attacks on South African business in parts of the country. The reprisal attacks according to reports were in the commercial capital of Lagos and parts of Ibadan in the southwest region.

The first report of an attack on a South African business was from Lekki in Lagos where a Shoprite mall was attacked and looted. Major South African firms in Nigeria include: MTN, Shoprite, PEP stores and Multichoice DSTv.

For people commenting on the development on Twitter, it was bad enough that Nigerians had been attacked abroad but that it was equally unacceptable that Nigerians will turn to reprisals.

Police was deployed to premises of target businesses and reports indicate that security action led to the death of one person. As at Wednesday morning, there is high security presence across a number of South African business premises.

The Nigerian government also issued a statement urging citizens to desist from such attacks. The statement signed by Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said there was no justification for reprisals.

The Federal Government has appealed to Nigerians not to attack South African companies operating in Nigeria in retaliation for the ongoing xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa.

Alhaji Mohammed said the majority of the workers in the South African companies operating in Nigeria are also Nigerians, meaning that its Nigerian workers who will be hardest hit if such companies are forced to shut down for fear of attacks.

Lagos State governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu also waded into the attacks describing them as “criminal activities against legitimate businesses.”

“Whiles Federal Government takes diplomatic and proactive actions to protect our brothers and sisters, as the Chief Security Officer of Lagos, I will protect the residents of Lagos against any criminal elements flying pretentious nationalist flags,” he added.