Xenophobic attacks: here is the latest as more Nigerians die in South Africa

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Good day, Here are the day’s top stories, and a look ahead.

Otrages has continued to trail the recent xenophobic attacks on Foriegners, mostly Nigerians in South Africa, where lives have been lost and many shops looted by citizens.

Here are some of the recent events that have followed the development

Looting hits SA township in second day of violence

Police have been clashing with looters in South Africa’s township of Alexandra in Johannesburg, a day after violence hit other parts of the city.

Videos shared online show empty streets and roads littered with stones.

Monday’s outbreak of violence saw some foreign-owned businesses targeted, a situation that has led to African countries issuing warnings to their citizens.

Regional police chief Lt Gen Elias Mawela told local media that seven arrests had been made in Alexandra.

He described the situation as “stable but volatile.

Nigerian govt demands two major things from South Africa

Geoffrey Onyeama [Photo credit: guardian.ng]

The Nigerian government has made two major demands from South Africa in the aftermath of xenophobic attacks in the country.

The businesses of many Nigerians in South Africa have been destroyed, looted or burnt in the past week since xenophobic attacks resumed in the country against foreign nationals.

Before the latest incident, many Nigerians have also been killed in suspected xenophobic attacks by South Africans.

Speaking to journalists after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister, Geoffery Onyeama, said Nigeria had made two major demands from the South African government.

He said a special envoy sent by President Muhammadu Buhari to South Africa will focus on the two issues.

“It is just those two key issues, the compensation payment and what security mechanism be put in place to make sure that these kinds of attacks do not recur,” the minister said.

Read the transcript of the interview Mr Onyeama had with journalists below.

Q: What have you to say over xenophobic attacks on Nigerians by South African citizens?


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Onyeama: We have registered our strong protest to the government of South Africa. But most importantly, we have put forward to the South African government what we think will make a big difference: one with regard to compensation with those who have suffered loss and most importantly, a security proposal that we believe will safeguard the security of Nigerians in the future.

Q: What are you hoping to see in South Africa in terms of security?

Onyeama: We are hoping to see the possibility of sending some security agents deploying them initially in the Nigerian High Commission to work closely with the South African police force. We believe that would be a very important process to address and preempt this kind of attacks and possibly for them to also be embedded within the police force of South Africa.

So you will have some certain number of Nigeria security people trying to work with the South African police force.

Q: Is there likely to be a reciprocal effect in the event that the South African government did not cooperate?

Onyeama: We don’t believe that two wrongs make right, I think in terms of revenge on those kinds of attack is not what we are looking forward to. The South African government has assured us that they are doing everything possible to address the situation, that they are equally exasperated by the whole event. We believe that with that goodwill, we may be able to work together to put in place these mechanisms that would make a difference.

Q: The special envoys will be leaving for South Africa. What will be the key issues that would be discussed with their president?

It is just those two key issues, the compensation payment and what security mechanism be put in place to make sure that these kinds of attacks do not recur; we need to have a viable mechanism in place. Like I have said one of the possibilities that we are proposing is to have some Nigerian security operatives working with the South African police and attached to the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa.

Governments issue warnings about South Africa violence

Following the outbreak of violence in South Africa, which has seen some foreign-owned businesses targeted, a number of other African countries have expressed their concern and issued warnings.

Ethiopia’s embassy in South Africa has advised its citizens to close their businesses during the on-going tension that has seen shops in the commercial hub Johannesburg looted and set ablaze, Ethiopia’s state-linked FBC reports.

It also says that Ethiopians are advised to “distance themselves from any confrontation and conflict” and not go out with expensive jewellery.

Meanwhile, Zambia’s transport ministry has said that lorry drivers should “avoid travelling to South Africa until the security situation improves”.

The statement refers to reported attacks on foreign lorry drivers. The IOL news site says that there have been “numerous incidents” of vehicles being looted.

Looters broke into shops in several places in Johannesburg on Monday

And, in a tweet, Nigeria’s government has reiterated the words of Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama. It said that Nigerian businesses had been targeted adding that “enough is enough”.

Outcry over student’s murder in Cape Town

Amid the looting and torching of shops in Johannesburg, South Africans have been gripped by another tragedy.

The gruesome murder of 19-year-old Uyinene Mrwetyana, a student at the University of Cape Town, has sparked a national outcry.

Ms Mrwetyana was bludgeoned to death with a weighing scale by a 42-year-old post office employee when she had gone to pick up a parcel in the Cape Town suburb of Claremont.

The first-year film and media studies student had been missing since 24 August and her body was found a week later dumped in Khayelitsha township.

The confirmation of her identity triggered a national outrage about the safety of women.

The hashtags #RIPUyinene and #AmINext have been trending on social media sites.

Students held a vigil at the university on Monday evening:

The killing of Ms Mrwetyana comes a week after South Africa women’s boxing champion Leighandre Jegels was shot by her boyfriend.

President Cyril Ramaphosa broke his silence on the murders saying in a statement that the killings were a “stain” on the country:

“This is a very dark period for us as a country. The assaults, rapes and murders of South African women are a stain on our national conscience,” he said.

A suspect in the killing of Ms Mrwetyana, who cannot be named yet for legal reasons, appeared in court on Monday and according to the prosecuting authority he confessed to killing Ms Mrwetyana.

He is expected back in court in November.

South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Over 20,300 murders were recorded last year alone.

Buhari sends envoy to SA after xenophobic attacks

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a special envoy to South Africa to convey his concerns to President Cyril Ramaphosa over ongoing xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg and other cities.

Earlier on Tuesday the South African high commissioner to Nigeria was summoned to discuss the violence.

The Nigerian foreign ministry says it has asked South African authorities to have its police officers on the ground in South Africa.

The re-emergence of xenophobic attacks in South Africa has been hotly debated in Nigeria this week. It’s been trending on social media, with many Nigerian users calling for a boycott of South African businesses.

Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama has condemned the burning and looting of foreign-owned shops in South Africa.

In a press conference following his meeting with the South African high commissioner, Mr Onyeama said those affected should be compensated.

The Nigerian high commission in South Africa has offered support to its nationals.

South Africa’s President Ramaphosa condemns ‘anti-foreigner violence’

Police have struggled to contain the crowds of rioters who have looted shops and torched vehicles

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned a wave of looting and violence that has mostly targeted foreign nationals.

“There can be no justification for any South African to attack people from other countries,” he said on Tuesday.

Dozens of people were arrested in Johannesburg on Monday after rioters looted shops and torched vehicles.

Other African governments have issued warnings to their citizens over the violence.

Attacks on businesses run by “foreign nationals is something totally unacceptable, something that we cannot allow to happen in South Africa,” Mr Ramaphosa said in a video posted to Twitter.

“I want it to stop immediately,” he added.

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

Police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades in an attempt to quell the unrest on Monday. The surge in violence also saw mobs target lorries that were being driven by foreign nationals.

What has the reaction been?

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari sent an envoy to South Africa on Tuesday to “express Nigeria’s displeasure over the treatment of her citizens”.

In a statement, the country’s high commission in South Africa described the situation as “anarchy”. The government alleges that Nigerian-owned businesses were targeted in Johannesburg and it has called on Nigerians to come forward to report what has happened to them.

Ethiopia’s embassy in South Africa has advised its citizens to close their businesses during the ongoing tension, according to Ethiopia’s state-linked Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC).

It also says that Ethiopians are advised to “distance themselves from any confrontation and conflict” and not go out wearing expensive jewellery.

In some places, police have confronted those trying to loot

Meanwhile, Zambia’s transport ministry has said that lorry drivers should “avoid travelling to South Africa until the security situation improves”.

The statement refers to reported attacks on foreign lorry drivers. The South African IOL news site says that there have been “numerous incidents” of vehicles being looted.

But South Africa’s police minister, Bheki Cele, said on Monday that “criminality rather than xenophobia” was to blame for the “senseless violence”.

“[Xenophobia] is used as an excuse,” he told reporters after visiting Johannesburg’s Central Business District, where much of the unrest has been taking place. “Nothing… has sparked any form of conflict between the South Africans and foreign nationals.”

Reps may end recess over attacks on Nigerians in South Africa – Gbajabiamila

House of Reps [Photo: Twitter – @HouseNGR]

The House of Representatives may cut short its recess and reconvene to address killings of Nigerians and looting of their properties in South Africa.

Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, made this known via a tweet on his Twitter handle @femigbaja Tuesday morning.

Earlier, Kingsley Chinda, a member of the House from Rivers State, had called on the speaker to cut short the ongoing recess and attend to the killings of Nigerians in that country.

Mr Chinda stated this on Tuesday in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES.

“Will be cutting short my trip to Tanzania for the 50th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference @CPA_Secretariat and will be leaving today, for the leadership of the @HouseNGR to consider cutting short the recess and reconvening for one day to address the killings of Nigerians in SA‬,” the speaker tweeted.

South Africans on Sunday began fresh attacks, looting and burning of properties belonging to foreigners in Johannesburg.

At least three people were killed in the renewed attacks, while an injured person is still receiving treatment for smoke inhalation, the President of the Nigeria Union South Africa (NUSA), Adetola Olubajo, said on Monday.

Mr Olubajo said the attacks began on Sunday morning in Jeppestown area of Johannesburg when a building was set ablaze by an angry mob.

Not less than 100 Nigerians had so far lost their lives in different xenophobic attacks over the years.

The National Assembly had embarked on a seven weeks recess in July.

The lawmakers are expected to resume from the recess on September 24.

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