BY Victoria ojeme
The High Commission of Nigeria in Pretoria has expressed concern over recent xenophobic attacks on Africans by South Africans, just as President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday dispatched a special envoy to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The Nigerian High Commissioner, Amb. Kabiru Bala, in a statement said that some of the victims of the lawlessness in the country were Nigerians.
He said the Nigerian High Commission and Nigerian Consulate in Pretoria and Johannesburg would compile a list of Nigerians affected by the attacks for engagement with the South African Government and other stakeholders.
According to him, all Nigerian victims of the current attacks are requested to come forward to report their situation to the High Commission and the Consulate.
“The two missions will continue to be home to all Nigerians in these trying times and in the future.
“Since the outbreak of the attacks last week, the two missions have remained open and continued to render normal services to Nigerians and other customers without hindrance.
“We appeal to Nigerians to remain calm and avoid any action that may jeopardise efforts to engage the South African Government through diplomatic channels to bring situation under control and restore normalcy.
“The two missions are currently working alongside all relevant authorities in South Africa, including the police, to address the unfortunate situation.
“Concerted efforts are ongoing for the state visit by President Muhammadu Buhari to South Africa by which time we will substantially address existing concerns in the consular relations between the two countries.”
He stated that xenophobic attacks were unacceptable anywhere in the world, especially in a country that has Africa in its official name.
The envoy noted that the country had its national anthem as “Is God Bless Africa,” and the ruling party as African National Congress, while its national events start with the African Union anthem.
He said all hands should be on the deck to arrest the unfortunate situation in South Africa and put an end to the violence against foreign nationals.
Meanwhile, Buhari has dispatched a Special Envoy to President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa over the attacks on Nigerian citizens and property in South Africa since Aug. 29.
Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s spokesman, in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, said the envoy would also interact with his South African counterpart on the situation.
Adesina revealed that the president had already instructed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, to summon the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria and get a brief on the situation.
He said Onyeama was also to express Nigeria’s displeasure over the treatment of its citizens; and get assurance of the safety of lives and property.
“The Special Envoy is expected to arrive in Pretoria latest Thursday, Sept. 5, ’’ he added.
The President of the Nigeria Union South Africa, Mr Adetola Olubajo, said on Monday that the attacks began on Sunday morning in Jeppestown area of Johannesburg when a building was set ablaze by an angry mob.
“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, Sept. 1, a group of violent locals suspected to be Zulu hostel dwellers, besieged Jules Street in Malvern, Johannesburg, looted and burned shops and businesses with Nigerians being the most affected.
Some witnesses living on Jules Street said the Zulu hostel dwellers were very organised and well-coordinated in looting and burning any shops/businesses suspected to be owned by foreign nationals.