The Coordinator of South African Women Married to Nigerians, Mrs Thelma Okoro, tells that South African women are not in support of plan to relocate Nigerians
How long have you been married to a Nigerian?
We have been living together for the past 16 years but the marriage is 11 years old.
How many kids has the marriage produced?
We are blessed with three kids.
Is it true that Nigerian men are caring and have what it takes to take proper care of ladies?
Not all of them are caring.
Due to the incessant attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners in South Africa, the Nigerian Government is planning to evacuate Nigerians from the country. Are South African women married to Nigerians in support this move?
We’re not in support of it because we believe that the whole situation can be peacefully addressed. The whole thing can still be addressed in a way that will be beneficial to all.
Of course yes, we already have sisters (South African ladies) that reside in Nigeria. Therefore, it’s not a big deal if South African women follow their Nigerian husbands to Nigeria.
Do you support the calls that the South African Government should compensate the victims of these xenophobic attacks?
Yes, compensation should be paid to the victims. Although money cannot bring back the dead, those who suffered losses should be compensated. I believe compensation should be paid because these attacks were not the first but our government did nothing about the whole thing. There were messages circulating before the attacks were carried out and our government kept quiet.
Do you mean the police did nothing to stop the attack on foreigners?
Yes, they did nothing to stop it, including our intelligence agents. There is another message in circulation now that some persons want to rid South Africa of foreigners but nothing is being done (about it).
Are you saying there is a fresh message that foreigners will be attacked again?
Yes, a fresh message. The message states that starting from 7am on September 9, all businesses, schools, churches run by foreigners must be closed down. They said there will be fire and blood if this is not done. They are threatening to burn down businesses of all foreigners if the government refuses to close them down. The message is full of threats and that is what I am saying.
Who are the people behind the message?
I don’t know but it is in circulation. We do not know where the message is coming from but our intelligence (agencies) can find that out.
Is this not making foreigners to be afraid now?
Yes, foreigners are afraid. We are afraid; we don’t want this to happen.
Were arrests made during the last attacks?
Yes. Some were arrested. I think over 100 persons were arrested.
How do you want this problem to be addressed?
There should be introspection. There are lots of things that are bad. There are some Nigerians that deal in drugs and this is tarnishing the image of so many Nigerians that are doing legitimate jobs here. But before they came, there were drugs here but they were never sold the way Nigerians are selling them.
What I think can help is that there should be serious campaigns against drugs. Its negative effects on the health of those involved in it and the effects on the economy and many others should be highlighted. Association of Nigerians living here should make it known to the drug dealers that they do not support them in any way and that whatever they (drug dealers) do should not be linked to them.
Also, if a drug dealer is caught, I will advocate that such person should be seriously dealt with according to the provisions of the law. Drugs are causing a lot of havoc. But there is one problem here, if a drug dealer is arrested today, tomorrow he is off the hook. We have so many responsible Nigerians in South Africa, but these bad eggs are tarnishing their image. The good deeds of the responsible ones are overshadowed by the bad ones.
Will you suggest that the Nigerian Union in South Africa should collaborate with South African police to tackle drug dealers in the country?
Yes. This is okay but the problem is the corruption from the government officials. For example, if a NUSA member reports a drug dealer to security agents, they will go and disclose the person’s identity to the drug dealer and that will put the life of the innocent person in danger. I once challenged a top police officer that they were exposing us to criminals.
My appeal to South Africans is that we should fight crime and not nationalities. We should all unite to fight crime wherever it is found. – Punch.