- The envoy was recalled on Saturday, weeks after the anti-immigrant protests started
- The envoy was recalled for talks on the xenophobic attacks and safety of Nigerians
- The attacks on foreigners by locals started on March 20
- It is believed to have been triggered by the influential Zulu Kings’s speech
- Nigerian Envoy had said there was no plan for immediate evacuation of Nigerians.
Acting High Commissioner Martin Cobham and Consul-General Uche Ajulu-Okeke had been asked to return to Nigeria for consultations, a statement by the Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
“The invitation is in connection with the on-going xenophobia in South Africa targeting foreigners, mainly African migrants,” the statement said.
Nigerian lawmakers had advised the presidency to recall the envoy and hold talks. They have also suggested that Nigerians should be evacuated if the need arises.
But the Mr Cobham said there were no immediate plans for the evacuation of Nigerians, insisting that the attacks had not reached the level that Nigeria would consider the evacuation of citizens.
Seven people have been killed in attacks on migrants since March 20, when Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini spoke out against foreign workers.
“Let us pop our head lice,” he said. “We must remove ticks and place them outside in the sun. We ask foreign nationals to pack their belongings and be sent back.”
He has since said those remarks were taken out of context and that he opposes violence.
Earlier this week,protesters picketed the South African embassy in Lagos. A Nigerian group has called for the International Criminal Court to investigate Zwelithini for “hate speech”.
South Africa has deployed troops to try to quell the violence, after criticism by nations including China and Zimbabwe for failing to protect their citizens against armed mobs.
South African firms such as mobile phone giant MTN and supermarket chain Shoprite have significant interests in Nigeria, which is Africa’s biggest economy.