Nigerian Mission in South Africa has attributed the renewed xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and spate of violence to the weak judicial system and lack of adequate stringent measures against crimes in South Africa.
Mr Godwin Adama, the Nigeria Consul General in Johannesburg, made this known in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) from Johannesburg, on Tuesday.
Adama said that lack of arrest, prosecution and trial with stringent punishment against crimes and other offences contributed to the spate of violence in South Africa.
The consul general was reacting to renewed attacks against foreigners on Aug. 28 and Sept. 1, in Pretoria and Johannesburg, leading to looting and burning of businesses and property belonging foreigners and death of three people.
Adama, therefore, called for a review of the South African judicial system to promote the fights against crime and all forms of impunity in that country.
“The judicial system is very lenient with those types of crimes, so if somebody commits a crime now, the system will grant him bail immediately.
“Criminals seize the opportunity of such a lenient system to commit crimes; and it is expected that if the government can review its judicial system, it will boost fights against crime.
“This will help in the future because as it is today, the whole law is lenient and it leads to impunity.
“This is why the crime rate is difficult to control, even when you kill somebody now, they will grant you bail almost immediately and this is what leads to impunity.
“If the judicial system is actually reviewed, it will help to reduce crimes and xenophobic attacks to arrest the ongoing situation.”
Adama said that although 30 people were said to have been arrested so far, which included foreign nationals, adding that such did not justify the crime.
The consul general noted that some of those arrested could be Zimbabweans, Indians or Nigerians, noting that the arrest of people did not make the whole fresh attacks less criminal.
“A criminal is a criminal no matter his or her nationality; so wherever he or she comes from, such a person is a criminal and should be treated as such.
So, nationality is not to justify what is going on, which is where the situation is at the moment.
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“As at today, the situation is calm, the only area that there have been looted are the trader’s shops at a place called Alexandra in Gauteng Province in South Africa, where shops were looted overnight.
“This is to show you that it is not just Nigerians that have been looting, also most foreigners that have shops and businesses in South Africa are involved.
“These include Indians, Chinese and Pakistanis, where Indians have major malls have been locked, maybe they will open today, even Chinese cannot go to the axis that they have security,” he added.
Adama said that at least one Nigerian resides in areas where foreigners locate their shops and as such, they could be easily affected when foreign shops were targeted.
He said that no Nigerian was killed and the three people were killed died as a result of a building that was gutted by fire.
He said that most criminals seized the opportunity of the fire outbreak to loot property belonging to foreigners and as a result, some people were affected.
“No Nigerian has been killed, even attacked and the only thing that the criminals attacked was shops because they may know that such shops belong to foreign nationals.
“There is a place where only two shops belonged to Nigerians out of the nine that were attacked, but they are other places where there are more Nigerian shops in Marvel or Julie Street.
“These are areas Nigerians love a lot because we have a large number of Nigerians there. So, some of the shops were burnt and even looted and they lost a lot in these areas.
“There were no attacks against anybody, there are only attacks on property and they are in business areas,” he said.
Adama extolled the agreement by President Muhammadu Buhari and South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, to meet to discuss the issues affecting both countries.
“It is a reciprocal gesture for Ramaphosa visit to Nigeria in 2016.’’
He said that the meeting by both presidents was expected table issues of attacks and the inauguration of the early warning mechanism in both countries.
He said that before the meeting, there would be bilateral discussions in terms of the agreement and other bilateral matters.
“The meeting used to be at the levels of Vice Presidents, but now it has been upgraded to the level of Heads of State.
“This will be the first time that both presidents will meet at this level, which means there will be inauguration before other issues can be discussed.
“Through such discussions, we can achieve a lot in short time and the early warning system will be something we really look forward to achieving when the meeting holds in October,” Adama said.