Hours after Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari met with his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, in Japan, reports have emerged of ongoing xenophobic attacks on foreign-owned businesses in South Africa, including those owned by Nigerians.
Buhari held a bilateral meeting with Ramaphosa on the sidelines of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) in Yokohama, Japan, on Wednesday.
THE WHISTLER had reported that the issue of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians was expected to form part of the discussions at the meeting which had Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister Mr Geoffery Onyeama in attendance.
Ramaphosa was said to have assured Buhari that the South African government was “looking into” xenophobic attacks on foreigners in the country.
But hours after the meeting between presidents of both countries, reports emerged of ongoing xenophobic attacks on Nigerian and other foreign-owned businesses in South Africa.
The Nigerian Union in South Africa (NUSA) issued a notice on Wednesday to Nigerians living in the country to avoid Pretoria Central Business District (CBD) until the police authority certify the area safe for foreign nationals.
“Violent looting and burning of foreign-owned businesses started in the early hours of today, Aug. 28, at the Pretoria CBD. The foreign-owned shops and offices were targeted by angry taxi driver rioters, the President of NUSA, Adetola Olubajo said in a statement.
“The violent revolt and looting have been fuelled by the death of a taxi driver allegedly by Tanzania nationals on Tuesday at Pretoria CBD.
“Not less than two buildings were burnt by the angry mob. This was done after the stocks in the various shops were looted by the rioters.
“The situation was very volatile this morning but the joint efforts of South African Metro Police and South African Police Service members helped to curb the violent looting and attacks, although the situation is still tensed at the area as several roads were blocked for motorists.’’
According to Olubajo, two Nigerian-owned businesses on Sisulu and Lillan Ngoyi Streets were looted and burnt, with others marked for further attacks.
“Information reaching us is that some foreign-owned businesses have been marked to be attacked over the night.
“The marked foreign-owned businesses include a Nigerian-owned Private Clinic, Nigerian-owned Motor spares shop and a Nigerian Church among others.
“The Nigeria High Commission in Pretoria has been informed of the planned overnight attacks and looting of foreign nationals businesses.
“We strongly advised Nigerians to avoid Pretoria CBD until the South African Police Authority has certified the area safe for foreign nationals,’’ Olubajo said.
Meanwhile, the offices of Gauteng MEC for Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure, Gauteng Provincial Commissioner and Taxi Industry in Tshwane, were said to have issued a joint press statement on their engagement with the taxi industry following the fatal shooting of a taxi operator in the Pretoria CBD.
“Gauteng Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure MEC, Jacob Mamabolo, together with the Provincial Commissioner of Police, Lt.-Gen. Elias Mawela on Wednesday engaged with the City of Tshwane as well as representatives of the taxi industry in Tshwane.
“This followed an incident on Tuesday afternoon where a taxi operator was fatally shot near the Bloed Long-Distance Taxi Rank in Pretoria.
“The taxi industry representatives tabled their concerns and raised what both the MEC and Provincial Commissioner believe are genuine concerns, which require urgent attention to ensure safety and security within the space in which they operate.
“The South African Police Service and the Tshwane Metro Police Department have since intensified deployments and will maintain a presence in the CBD to ensure that no further incidents of criminality recur,’’ the statement said.
Meanwhile, 17 suspects were said to have been arrested in connection with the attacks.
The taxi industry representatives in the country were also said to have distanced themselves from the incidents.
“We had planned for a demonstration to highlight some of our issues with the shooting of one of us, and we believe some criminal elements took advantage and exploited our plan to advance their criminal intent,’’ the statement quoted Mr Mack Makata of SANTACO to have said.