…As FG vows definitive measures
By Victoria Ojeme, with agency reports
Three people have been reportedly killed and many property destroyed in an attack on foreigners, including Nigerians based in South Africa.
According to Adetola Olubajo, President of Nigeria Union South Africa, the attacks began on Sunday morning in Jeppestown area of Johannesburg, adding that the angry mob set a building ablaze in the area.
The latest attacks came just days after South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, assured President Muhammadu Buhari, on the sideline of the 7th Tokyo International Conference, in Japan, that his government would take steps to address the attacks on Nigerians to strengthen the relations between Nigeria and South Africa.
But Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, did not only describe those behind the attacks as ‘mindless criminals’ but also promised that definitive measures would be taken by the Federal Government against xenophobic attacks on Nigerians.
Olubajo said: “The mob also looted several shops that were around the vicinity suspected to be owned by foreign nationals. But the Police later dispersed the mob and made some arrests.
“Late in the evening of Sunday, September 1, a group of violent locals suspected to be Zulu hostel dwellers besieged Jules Street in Malvern, Johannesburg, looted and burnt shops/businesses.”
According to witnesses living on Jules Street, the Zulu hostel dwellers were very organised and well-coordinated in looting and burning of any shops/businesses suspected to be owned by foreign nationals.
Olubajo said information gathered by members of NUSA in Malvern area indicated that over 50 shops/businesses were destroyed, looted and burnt overnight.
S-African mob sets Nigerians’ shops on fire
Speaking further, he said: “Also, some businesses owned by foreign nationals were looted in Germiston on Sunday evening. A Nigerian-owned Internet café and computer accessories business was among the looted shops in Germiston.
“When I got the sad news late yesterday (Sunday) evening, I immediately informed the Police in Jeppestown but lots of damage had been done already.
“The means of livelihood of people were looted and destroyed by fire overnight, which has left many Nigerians traumatised.
“Nigerian-owned businesses were seriously affected. A car sales business owned by a Nigerian was among the several businesses set ablaze over the night.
“Although the Police said that many people had been arrested in connection with the unnecessary attacks, the looting and burning of foreign-owned businesses continued till Monday (yesterday) morning.
“We implore the security operatives to be proactive and not reactive as many long years hard-earned investments have been lost through looting, destruction and burning. Our government officials should also seriously engage their counterparts in South Africa.
Onyeama promises definitive measures
Reacting to the latest attacks, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, promised ‘definitive measures’ on the matter.
The minister in a Twitter post condemning the attacks, said: “Received sickening and depressing news of continued burning and looting of Nigerian shops and premises in #SouthAfrica by mindless criminals with ineffective police protection. Enough is enough; we will take definitive measures.”
Onyeama blamed ineffective police protection for the losses suffered by Nigerians.
NICASA wants perpetrators arrested
Meanwhile, Nigerian Citizens Association in South Africa, NICASA, has called on the South African authorities to arrest and prosecute those involved in the burning and looting of Nigerian businesses in that country.
President of NICASA, Ben Okoli, said prosecution of the culprits would serve as deterrent to others and forestall such unwarranted occurrence in the future.
According to him, Nigerian-owned businesses looted and burnt include furniture, electronics shops, warehouses, mechanic and motor spare, parts among others.
Okoli said that though the crisis affected other foreigners, what made the matter worse was the fact that it happened where there were a lot of Nigerian businesses.
He added that a Nigerian had eight vehicles in his car lot burnt by the arsonists, while another had his warehouse containing his 16 years investment destroyed.
He urged the Nigerian mission in South Africa to intervene by ensuring the safety of Nigerians in the country.