This is not the best time for Nigerians in South Africa following consistent attacks by citizens of the host country. Nigerians in the former apartheid country have become the targets of South African citizens who believe nationals of other African countries have deprived them of their scarce resources.
Hundreds of Nigerians in South Africa are being hounded relentlessly for no other offence than doing relatively well in their legitimate businesses.
Although other nationals of African extraction also grapple with xenophobic attacks in the country, obviously, Nigerians are the worst hit and at the receiving end of regular xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
This time, it is disastrous for Nigerians living in that country as they are not only being attacked, but maimed and killed, while their shops are looted.
The South African citizens blame the hardworking Nigerians for their socio-economic ills and hardship, including poverty, unemployment, poor service delivery, lack of business space and opportunities, crime, prostitution and drug.
Just this month, five Nigerians have been killed in South Africa. Two Nigerians were shot dead while two others sustained injuries from gunshots at Sands Hotel Area of Berea, Johannesburg, just last week Wednesday. Three other Nigerians were reportedly killed between April 6 and 9 at different locations in that country.
On March 24, 2019, in Durban, Kwazulu Natal and Mpumulanga Provinces hundreds of Nigerians were attacked by the South Africans in a distasteful manner on a clear xenophobic tendency, hacking and setting them ablaze. This has become a trend in the last one decade.
Sadly, in all of these none had attracted punitive action from the Nigerian government. As usual, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, described as ‘unfortunate’ the killing of Nigerians in South Africa.
Dabiri-Erewa, in a statement, condemned the burning of Clement Nwaoguin Rustenburg, South Africa, to death by a mob. She called on South African authorities to find a lasting solution to the incessant killing of Nigerians in that country. She also urged Nigerians living abroad to obey the laws of countries where they live and avoid crime to avoid unwarranted attacks and killings.
To say the least, the role of Nigerian government to take a decisive action against molestation and killings of its citizens in South Africa is repugnant. Aside from lame position often ditched out each time Nigerian citizens are killed in the country, it’s believed that the inaction of the Nigerian government against these unwarranted attacks and killings of Nigerians in the former apartheid country has been the reason for the unending dastardly act.
Nigeria needs to rise in defence of her citizens in South Africa with punitive measure, even if it warrants to severe ties with the country on account of the frequent xenophobic attacks.
This, if done with other measures, would ensure the perpetrators are brought to book rather than routine statements that “we urged Nigerians living abroad to obey the laws of countries where they live and avoid crime and criminality to avoid unwarranted attacks and killings.”
Why we call on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the lives of Nigerians are safe in South Africa, there must be tougher sanctions against the Republic of South Africa, which will in turn compel President Cyril Ramaphosa to take tougher stand against such acts of criminality against their African neighbours.
Also, it is needless to pursue the vision of a borderless Africa and Inter-Africa trade as being championed by the African Union if South Africa cannot tolerate other citizens and protect their lives.
Besides, other African countries must unite to end the hostility against their nationals in South Africa if African Union must continue in oneness and brotherhood as no country can stand on its own, without some forms of bilateral relationship. Diplomatic relationships must be respected and upheld at all times.
These senseless attacks must stop. It is time Nigerian government demonstrate that it is capable of defending its citizens across the world, especially with punitive action against South Africa.
Nigeria cannot look away and allow her citizens being slaughtered in South Africa.
Citizens who carry out legitimate businesses in South Africa and elsewhere in the world must be protected in the face of aggression by host countries, especially in South Africa where Nigeria played significant roles in ending the apartheid era.
We cannot continue to allow Nigerian’s lives being wasted in South Africa without tough sanctions against a government, which has failed to act and bring to book lawless and lazy South African youths.
It is time Nigerian government summoned the South African Ambassador for explanation as it is obvious that the country’s President, Ramaphosa, appeared insensitive enough following his utterances, which may be termed otherwise by less informed South African citizens who eventually take laws into their hands.
We, however, commend the Premier of South Africa’s Gauteng Province,
David Makhura, for initiating a Social Cohesion Programme to end discrimination and xenophobia in the area. The programme, which began on Sunday April 14, 2019, is “designed to curb all forms of discrimination and xenophobia as well as enhance cordial relations between nationalities of sister African countries and other nationalities in the province.”