A fresh round of violence is reportedly building up in the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa, as armed protesters are out again, demanding that foreigners should leave the country.
According to Sowetan Live, a South African newspaper, the protesters, who carried weapons such as knobkerries, were waiting to be addressed by Mongosuthu Buthelezi, a notable politician and Zulu leader.
This is coming one week after attacks on foreigner’s sparked reactions across the continent.
Last week, Nigeria, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi pulled out of the World Economic Forum in South Africa, while Zambia cancelled an international friendly football match with South Africa over the violence against foreigners.
In reprisal, mobs attacked South African-owned businesses across Nigeria, while the Rainbow nation shut down its high commission and consulate in Abuja and Lagos.
President Muhammadu Buhari immediately dispatched a special envoy to his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, to register Nigeria’s displeasure.
Notwithstanding the frosty relationship, the acting South African high commissioner to Nigeria, Amb. Bobby Moroe, has said his country remained committed to strengthening bilateral ties with Nigeria.
He told told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), yesterday, in Abuja that the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa would remain strong and on course.
The envoy said President Buhari and his South African counterpart, Ramaphosa, were expected to meet in October to discuss modalities to address attacks on Nigerians living in that country.
Meanwhile, in a statement by Khusela Diko, spokesperson to the President, the South African Government said President Buhari’s state visit would reinforce the bond between both countries.
Diko stated that the visit next month would further strengthen their bond and jointly develop responses to challenges affecting people and businesses in South Africa and Nigeria.
According to him, President Ramaphosa held discussions on September 6 with Nigeria’s special envoy, Amb. Ahmed Abubakar, on violence in South Africa and developments in Nigeria around South African businesses.
“The visit to Pretoria by the special envoy followed a recent meeting between Presidents Ramaphosa and Buhari in Yokohama, Japan, on the sidelines of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development.
“In their discussion, the special envoy conveyed President Buhari’s concern at recent events in South Africa, in context of the strong and cordial relations that characterise the interaction between the two countries.
“President Buhari conveyed his commitment to the values of prosperity and the advancement of Africa that are shared by South Africa and Nigeria.
“Nigeria stands ready to assist South Africa in establishing the root causes of and developing sustainable solutions to the challenges concerned.
“President Buhari has undertaken that, where challenges emerge in Nigeria, the Nigerian government will act against lawlessness and the targeting of South African assets in Nigeria,” Diko said.
According to him, President Ramaphosa also reaffirmed South Africa-Nigeria relations to be firm.
Diko added that both partners remained resolute in a shared commitment to building Africa at peace with itself and others.
…400 Nigerians ready for evacuation – Mission
The Nigerian mission in South Africa has said no fewer than 400 Nigerians have indicated their interest and registered to be evacuated from South Africa, following the recent xenophobic attacks.
Barring any last-minute change, the first batch will leave the former apartheid enclave on Wednesday.
Nigeria’s consul-general in Johannesburg, Godwin Adama, said Air Peace had offered to airlift those willing to return home sequel to the attacks on Nigerians and their businesses by South Africans.
According to him, the first batch of Nigerians who are willing to return will be repatriated on Wednesday: “We have more than enough for that aircraft. Over 400 Nigerians have already registered; more are still coming.”
The Nigerian high commissioner to South Africa, Kabiru Bala, also said that Nigerians had responded positively in good numbers.
Bala said that the mission was equally responding to the needs of those willing to return, especially those who had issues with their documents.
“We are documenting them. Those without travel documents, we shall provide them with emergency travel certificates.
“There are other governmental procedures that we must observe. Relevant agencies of government in Nigeria must be informed and must be ready to receive the returnees.
“Hard work is now going on at the high commission and consulate in this regard. As soon as all procedures and relevant protocols are observed, the return is assured and guaranteed,’’ Bala said.
President of the Nigerian Citizens Association, South Africa (NICASA), Ben Okoli, said all efforts were geared towards evacuation of those who were ready to come back to Nigeria.
Okoli said the figure of those ready to leave was in the hundreds, as many had lost their means of livelihood and had nothing to fall back on.
The association, he said, was still pushing ahead with the demand for compensation, as there was sufficient evidence available to them that the attacks were premeditated and orchestrated.
He also noted that normalcy was gradually returning, stressing that there was no longer tension or violence against any set of people.
“The violence and hostility have ceased. Many Nigerians were, however, affected by the crisis and lots have been highly distressed, with nothing to fall back on. So, some of those affected have decided to call it quits and go back to Nigeria.
“Presently, we are collating the data of Nigerians that are to be evacuated back to Nigeria.
“We have it on good record that the first batch will be leaving on Wednesday.’’
He commended PrOkoli also commended the management of Air Peace for offering to airlift Nigerians home and urged the airline to endeavour to airlift all Nigerians who were ready to leave South Africa.
…SERAP seeks $10bn for victims
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to Mrs. Soyata Maiga, chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the commission’s members requesting them to “urgently submit a case on the escalating xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and to seek an effective remedy and reparation for Nigerian victims.”