Alarming resent growing against South Africans outside borders

Pretoria, South Africa's  xenophobic violence against foreigners

Pretoria, South Africa’s xenophobic violence against foreigners

ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THE violent implosion in Nigeria as locals retaliate to xenophobic violence suffered by their compatriots in South Africa is merely a tip of an iceberg as bitterness brews among African nationals towards South African counterparts in their countries.

With more people in countries where there is a presence of South African people and companies threatening reprisals, the ongoing tensions are feared to have dire consequences.

Last Thursday, group of Nigerian youths under the banner of the National Youth Council of Nigeria ransacked South Africa’s largest mobile network operator MTN where they made off with several technology gadgets, customer phones and iPads worth millions of Naira before vandalising the offices.

Adults joined frustrated youths as they vowed to intensify violence against all South African companies operating in Nigeria, the continent’s biggest economy, in retaliation to ongoing violence targeted at Nigerians in South Africa, particularly Gauteng Province where they are accused of running drug and prostitution cartels.

In an interview with CAJ News, Nigerian Union in South Africa President, Chief Emeka Johnson, said Nigerian entrepreneurs had as a precautionary measure closed their businesses in Gauteng until further notice.

“We urge all Nigerians to always live in clusters in case they are attacked. We also call upon Nigerian parents to withdraw their children from schools in Gauteng province,” Chief Johnson said.

He said they had lost confidence in both police and government.

“We shall continue respecting the rule of law. However, I urge all Nigerians to defend themselves when provoked and attacked,” said Johnson.

Osita Owoh, a member of the National Youth Council of Nigeria that destroyed MTN offices in Abuja, concurred.

“I think South Africans always believe other African nations are stupid or scared of them when what we prefer is diplomacy. Enough is enough. I believe now is the time to return fire with fire,” said Owoh in Abuja.

The attack was an aftermath of anger brewing among Nigerians after government reported over 100 of its nationals had been killed over the past two years in attacks related to xenophobia.

Lagos based technology entrepreneur, Olu Okeniyi, also expressed outrage apparently agitating for more attacks on South African businesses and their managers operating in Nigeria to counter xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

South Africa has some 120 companies operating in Nigeria which among them comprise MTN, Shoprite, Eskom Nigeria, Protea Hotels, South African Airways, Stanbic Merchant Bank of Nigeria, Multichoice, South African Breweries (SAB miller), Umgeni Water and PEP.

“The best way to defend is to attack……….only if the Boko Haram could stop killing fellow Nigerians and channel their violence to the common enemy South Africa,” the combatant Okeniyi told CAJ News in Lagos.

Earlier during the week, President Muhammadu Buhari’s senior special assistant on foreign affairs and diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, denounced the alleged killing of Nigerians over the past two years.

“We have lost about 116 Nigerians in the last two years. And in 2016 alone, about 20 were killed. This is unacceptable to the people and Government of Nigeria,” said Dabiri-Erewa before summoning South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Lulu Aaron-Mnguni over xenophobic violence.

Dabiri-Erewa nonetheless called for restraint among Nigerians.

In Accra, Ghana, a mechanic Ebo Antwi, does not subscribe to the notion of restraint as attacks against fellow West Africans surge in South Africa.

“South Africans are just being bullies and a violent lot and need to be ganged up against and stopped in their tracks,” said Antwi.

He pointed out South Africans conveniently forget they were enjoying freedom, peace and tranquility as a result of sacrifices made by other African countries.

“It beats me to the bone marrow to see South Africans attacking and burning fellow Africans for simply running businesses,” said Antwi.

There is a significant presence of South African companies in Ghana comprising MTN, Standard Bank, Gold Fields, SABMiller, Woolworths, Engen, Hytec Engineering, Multichoice, Stanbic, Shoprite Checkers, Alliance Media, Steeldale, Sherwood, Steers and South African Airways.

Some are the biggest in their respective sectors.

“I call upon Ghanaians to join forces with other African nationalities being butchered in South Africa to also retaliate by destroying South African companies in their respective countries,” said Antwi.

His countryman, Kwaw Mensah, concurred: “Ghanaians are peace loving people, but what is happening in South Africa is madness that should be ruthlessly dealt with by any means necessary.”

It emerged in Gauteng, some nationals from different African countries including Ethiopians, Somalians, Mozambicans, Malawians, Nigerians, Tanzanians, Zambians and Zimbabweans have joined forces and threatened to mobilise in the event of attacks by South Africans recurring.

Somali entrepreneur, Khalid Abdiaziz, is part of the pact.

“For too long, we have been quiet while our ‘lazy’ South African colleagues come to loot our goods and destroy property claiming we are taking their jobs. Are you suggesting the spaza (tuckshop) I’m running is taking anyone’s job? Is selling tomatoes and vegetables in the streets stealing a job? We will hit back if confronted,” said Abdiaziz.

Mozambique national, Simão Alberto, said his countrymen were on “high alert” at the possibility of the attacks against Mozambicans in the neighbouring country.

Mozambicans have suffered grisly attacks previously, from the early 2000s when police set dogs and assaulted a Mozambican on video, police dragged another to his death using a van in 2013 and a vendor was fatally stabbed in the xenophobia in Alexandra in 2015.

“Many of our own people (Mozambicans) have been killed in previous attacks without any action taken against perpetrators. South Africans have always behaved like Dracula and vampires. This time we are going tit-for-tat,” said Alberto.

Commenting on the violence outbreak on Friday, Gauteng provincial police spokesman, Lieutenant Kay Makhubela, said 136 people, mainly South Africans had been arrested in connection with public violence.

The suspects will appear in court on Monday.

“Let me also warn members of the public that whosoever breaks the law, whether South African or foreigner, the law will always take its course,” Makhubela cautioned.

– CAJ News

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Posted by on Feb 26 2017. Filed under Africa & World, Exclusive, Featured, National, News, Regional. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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