News

Xenophobic violence; South Africa closes embassy in Nigeria

South Africa has temporarily closed
its diplomatic missions in Nigeria following reprisal attacks by
Nigerians triggered by xenophobic violence in South Africa.

Between
Sunday and Wednesday, mobs looted and destroyed shops, many of them
foreign-owned, in South Africa’s commercial hub, Johannesburg.

Nigeria’s government has been outspoken in its condemnation of the violence.

Police say the unrest has subsided and more than 420 arrests have been made.

South Africa’s Foreign Minister, Naledi Pandor, called the violence an embarrassment for her country.

“Our
government regrets all violence against foreign-owned stores or
Africans from other countries who are resident in South Africa,” she was
quoted as saying by national broadcaster SABC.he ordered the
closure of the country’s high commission in the Nigerian capital, Abuja,
and its mission in Lagos, following threats made to the diplomatic
staff.

Videos and images that have been shared on social media
purporting to show Nigerians being attacked and killed have inflamed
tensions.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, South African-owned businesses
were targeted by protesters in several Nigerian cities, and the looters
said the attacks were reprisals for the killing of Nigerians in South
Africa. South African telecoms giant MTN closed its shops as a
precautio

In response to the violence in Johannesburg, two of
Nigeria’s top musicians, Burna Boy And Tiwa Savage, announced they were
boycotting South Africa.

At least about 10 people have been killed in the trouble in South Africa, including two foreign nationals, the South African government says, but none of the victims have been identified as Nigerian.

On Wednesday, Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey
Onyeama told journalists: “There are a lot of stories going around of
Nigerians being killed, jumping off buildings and being burnt. This is
not the case.”

While the government believes Nigerian businesses
have been targeted in South Africa, he added, it has no evidence that
Nigerians have died.

Mr Onyeama also urged people to stop
attacking South African businesses in Nigeria, saying that President
Muhammadu Buhari was “particularly distraught at the acts of vandalism”.

Nigerian governments reaction;

Despite
disputing the accounts of Nigerians dying in South Africa, the Nigerian
government has been forceful in its condemnation of events there.

On
Wednesday, it announced it was boycotting the World Economic Forum on
Africa that is currently taking place in Cape Town in protest at the
violence.

“The government believes that we have to take the moral high ground on this matter,” Mr Onyeama said.

The president has also sent an envoy to South Africa to “express Nigeria’s displeasure over the treatment of her citizens”.

Nigerians
often criticise the authorities for being slow to respond to domestic
crises and the government is keen to be seen to be taking action over
attacks in South Africa, said the BBC’s Nigeria correspondent, Mayeni Jones

Reaction elsewhere in Africa?

On
Thursday, demonstrators in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s second
city, Lubumbashi, broke the windows of South Africa’s consulate, AFP
news agency reports.

There was also a small demonstration outside the South African embassy in the capital, Kinshasa.

Air
Tanzania, the country’s national carrier, has suspended flights to
Johannesburg because of the violence, Transport Minister Isack Kamwelwe
said.

Madagascar’s football federation has announced that it will
not be sending a team to play South Africa in a friendly on Saturday
because of security concerns.

The fixture against Madagascar was
announced after Zambia pulled out of the match earlier this week over
the xenophobic violence.

On Wednesday, students in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, forced the closure of several South African-owned shopping malls.

A group also marched on the South African high commission in the city and defaced the sign outside the compound.

“We
are tired of being beaten every day. We’re all Africa. Why must we be
afraid to go to South Africa?… We want the ambassador to address us,”
one protester told Reuters news agency.

On Tuesday, the African
Union (AU) issued a statement condemning the “despicable acts” of
violence in South Africa “in the strongest terms”.

the looting in South Africa?

The
attacks on foreign-owned shops began after South African lorry drivers
started a nationwide strike to protest against the employment of foreign
drivers. They blocked roads and torched foreign-driven vehicles mainly
in the coastal KwaZulu-Natal province.

It comes at a time of high unemployment and some South Africans blame foreigners for taking their jobs.

The unemployment rate in South Africa is nearly 28%, the highest since the labour force survey was introduced 11 years ago.

South Africa temporarily closed its embassy in Nigeria
following violence against South African businesses in reprisal for
attacks on foreign-owned stores in Johannesburg, while Nigeria announced
plans to evacuate its nationals from South Africa.

South
African Foreign Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor said on Thursday the
embassy was closed temporarily after threats led to fears for staff
safety.

“There is Afrophobia we are sensing that exists,
there is resentment and we need to address that,” Pandor told Reuters
news agency.

Foreign ministry spokesman Lunga Ngqengelele confirmed the diplomatic missions in the Nigerian cities of Lagos and Abuja have been closed since Wednesday.The announcement, which signals worsening diplomatic relations between the two African countries, comes after Nigeria introduced plans to evacuate its nationals from South Africa following a wave of attacks on foreigners.

Evacuation offer

The Nigerian foreign ministry said Air Peace, a commercial airline,
offered to send an aircraft on Friday to evacuate nationals willing to
return “free of charge”.”The general public is hereby advised to inform theirrelatives in South Africa to take advantage of thislaudable gesture,” Nigerian foreign ministryspokesman Ferdinand Nwonye said on Wednesday

“Interested
Nigerians are therefore advised to liaise with the High Commission of
Nigeria in Pretoria and the Consulate General of Nigeria in Johannesburg
for further necessary arrangement.”

The statement was made after Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said Nigeria would not cave to Pretoria.”The
South African government has to assume its responsibilities and protect
Nigerians in South Africa and we have to hold them to account, and they
have to do that as well as pay full compensation,” he said.

julietsc Administrator
Juliet Nnadozie is a peace advocate, a character moulder, and a home builder. She is also a script writer, a movie director, producer, editor and an actress. She is the CEO Passions Global Media; an outfit that is into talent hunt and childrens drama productions.
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julietsc Administrator
Juliet Nnadozie is a peace advocate, a character moulder, and a home builder. She is also a script writer, a movie director, producer, editor and an actress. She is the CEO Passions Global Media; an outfit that is into talent hunt and childrens drama productions.

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