xenophobic attacks in south africaThere are indications that South African authorities may soon compensate Nigerian victims of the recent xenophobic attacks.

Highlights:

  • Nigeria’s foreign affairs ministry gave the hint about the compensation while in a meeting with the Senate
  • Nigeria’s Acting High Commissioner in South Africa is putting together the cost of looting and damage to Nigerians
  • The ministry says talks are ongoing about the compensation
  • Xenophobic attacks started after a Zulu king made a speech about foreign workers in South Africa

Details

The Nigerian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs II, Senator Musliu Obanikoro, said this when the ministry of defence foreign affairs met with the Senate Committee on foreign affairs on Tuesday, at the National Assembly, Abuja over the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

Senator Obanikoro said the Nigerian government had directed the country’s Acting High Commissioner in Pretoria and the Consular General in Johannesburg to articulate the cost of looting and damage to Nigerians in South Africa following the anti-immigrant attacks.

“The issue of compensation is on the table and our envoys in Pretoria and Johannesburg have articulated the cost of the damage and looting to the affected Nigerians and as a ministry, we are prepared to ensure that South Africa pays the compensation,” he told the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Emmanuel Sithole
Emmanuel Sithole killed by South African locals.

According to him, the South African authorities, including the country’s High Commissioner to Nigeria and the Zulu king had variously apologised for the xenophobic attacks.

The protest against foreigners started after an influential Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, made a speech about foreign workers in South Africa.

But he said his statement was taken out of context, urging locals to end the attacks, which he called ‘vile’.

At least seven persons were killed and several others injured in the attacks.

“The Zulu king called a press conference in South Africa where he said he had never incited anyone. That is more or less an appeal. The South African High Commissioner to Nigeria apologized for the attacks,” he insisted.

The Nigerian Minister of State, Foreign Affairs also said that the South African government had put together a committee of five ministers to address the issues that led to the xenophobic attacks.

Curbing xenophobic attack

Earlier, the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Aminu Wale, said the Nigerian government was satisfied with efforts of the south African authorities in curbing the xenophobic attacks.

“We are satisfied at the moment with the situation in South Africa on the xenophobic attacks. The government had taken on the Zulu king on his alleged hate speech,” he said in response to a question.

The Minister maintained that Nigerians were not the target of the xenophobic attacks but Zimbabweans, Malawians and some others.

He insisted that the invitation of the Acting Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, Mr Martins Cobham and the Consular General in Johannesburg, Mrs Uche Okeke, for consultation was unnecessary, saying that they needed to remain in South Africa to help in salvaging the situation.

“We were in touch with our envoys and had instructed them to advise Nigerians in South Africa to stay indoors which they did. The Senate made the error of calling on the envoys for consultation,” he said.

Nigerian owned Garage burnt in Johannesburg
Automobile garage owned by a Nigerian burnt in the wake of xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg

The Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister added that Ethiopians, Malawians and Zimbabweans, who were the main victims of the xenophobic attacks and looting, did not recall their envoys.

“We should continue to play the roles we played prior to the independence of South Africa to earn us the respect. We should not allow this particular incident to mar the good will built by our forefathers over the years,” he cautioned

Members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs had insisted that Nigeria would no long play the carrot diplomacy, saying that any attack on Nigerians any where must be retaliated.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on foreign affairs, Senator Matthew Nwagwu, had at the commencement of the hearing, said the senate summoned the ministers to obtain a firsthand information on the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

The Nigerian Senate had in a motion last week among other things mandated its committee on foreign affairs to invite the minister of Foreign affairs to brief it on the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

The ministers appeared before the committee in the company of the Acting High Commissioner in South Africa, Mr Martins Cobham and the Consular General in Pretoria, Mrs Uche Okeke.

 

NP/VON

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