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Xenophobic Attacks In South Africa Against Nigerians, Others

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The international media had been awash this past weeks with news of xenophobic attacks in South Africa against African migrants especially Nigerians and other nationals from Sub-Saharan Africa. Several lives have been lost, while properties, business premises, and other valuables of the migrants have been destroyed.

There are viral videos on YouTube and pictures of brutal attacks on African migrants resident in South Africa.
This development has not gone on noticed by the African countries affected including Nigeria, even as, Mr. Malusi Gigaba, South African Home Affairs Minister, has said that diplomacy is the solution to attacks on Nigerians in his country.

However,  Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Adviser (Foreign Affairs) to President Muhammadu Buhari, has
described as insensitive the suggestion by Mr. Malusi Gigaba, South African Home Affairs Minister, that diplomacy is the solution to attacks on Nigerians in his country. Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa also declared that the Federal Government will no longer tolerate such violence against Nigerians.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa said Mr. Gigaba’s statement that “such issues were better discussed at diplomatic levels” ignores the enormity of the xenophobic attacks, which have claimed over 116 Nigerian lives in South Africa. The attacks have provoked anger in Nigeria, notably with an attack on the office of the South African-owned telecoms company, MTN.

“Mr. Gigaba’s response to the mayhem that a segment of the South African people perpetrated on law-abiding Nigerians in South Africa smirks of insensitivity, and it’s therefore very reprehensible, if not unacceptable.
“In view of this unfortunate statement, I am therefore restating my earlier call on the African Union (AU) to take up the South Africa’s xenophobic issue as a matter of urgency.

“The days that the Nigerian government will fold its arms while its citizens are maltreated to the point that some of them have lost their lives for no just cause are long gone,” she said. Similarly, the chairman of House of  Representatives committee on Foreign Affairs, Nnenna Ukeje-Elendu has blamed ongoing xenophobic attacks on
South African government. Ukeje-Elendu said the South African government is not working towards producing jobs for its citizen and the government is fond of apologising rather than acting.

Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has sent an open letter to King Mswati III of Swaziland, and Chairperson, Southern African Development Community, SADC, urging him to “convene
an emergency summit of the SADC heads of state and government to discuss the persistent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals living in South Africa.”

The organisation also urged SADC to “Use the Organ on Politics, Defence, and Security Cooperation within SADC to immediately set up an independent and impartial body to investigate all acts of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals. The investigation’s findings and recommendations should be made public, suspected
perpetrators brought to justice and victims must enjoy the right to an effective remedy and reparation.”

With the failure of South African government to provide security for the victims of xenophobic attacks, reports indicate that Nigerians are relying on self-help to protect their lives and property. It was gathered that plans by South Africans to further attack Nigerians especially those resident in Pretoria and Johannesburg last
Thursday, was thwarted by Nigerians, who defended themselves having earlier been informed of the scheduled attacks.

We dare say that if the South African government fail to protect foreign nationals in their midst to the point where the victims of such attacks are forced to resort to self-help, it means the country is inviting anarchy and is on edge of joining the league of failed states in the world. It is time that the South Africans be reminded that the freedom they enjoy today was partly the result of other African countries especially Nigeria. That is why we join those calling on the African Union (AU) to intervene in the latest xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa. If this is not
halted immediately it could lead to retaliatory attacks on South African businesses in other countries which could make the whole scenario messy and challenging to the continent. The intermittent xenophobic attacks in South Africa must stop forthwith.

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