Nigerians’ evacuation begins Wednesday, South Africans insist foreigners must leave
There were fresh protests in eastern Johannesburg on Sunday, with the protesters demanding that “foreigners must go back to where they came from.”
During the fresh attacks, one person died, while five others were injured. The nationality of the dead has not been known as of the time of filing this report.
A South African newspaper, Sowetan Live, reported that marchers, who carried weapons such as knobkerries, headed for Jules Park where former Inkatha Freedom Party leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, addressed them.
According to the newspaper, the protesters were chanting, “foreigners must go back to where they came from.”
The BBC reported on Sunday that South Africans disrupted a speech in Johannesburg by Buthelez who tried to quell tensions following last week’s riots and xenophobic attacks.
According to the report, Buthelez was heckled by a rowdy section of the crowd.
He told the crowd he had become a mediator and said he felt ashamed about the recent violence which he said was tarnishing the name of South Africa across the continent.
He said, “What we have seen in the past few days is unacceptable. The attacks on foreign nationals and their businesses are purely xenophobic. It is a violation of human rights and a violation of our constitution. Our constitution enshrines the right to freedom from all forms of violence. That right applies to everyone in South Africa, whether citizens or not.”
The South African Broadcasting Corporation reported that the police had confirmed that one person had died in renewed violence in the Johannesburg.
The Gauteng Police Commissioner, Elias Mawela, pleaded with residents of the area to allow the government to deal with violence in some areas.
Also news24.com reported that Gauteng police spokesperson, Captain Kay Makhubele, confirmed that five people were injured.
The casualties were also confirmed by the President, Nigerian Union South Africa, Adetola Olubajo, in a text message to one of our correspondents, which read, “Police have confirmed one person dead and five injured.”
NUSA called on Nigerians to stay away from hot spots where violent protest march by Zulu hostel dwellers in Johannesburg took place.
The Publicity Secretary of the union, Habib Salihu, in a statement on Sunday, said this was to avoid a repeat of the violence recorded last week which led to “monumental loss of property and innocent lives.”
A Nigerian, Samson Onyema, whose business was destroyed during last week’s attacks told one of our correspondents on the phone on Sunday that “South Africans are protesting and moving round now. I am in Malvern and this is happening now. Their policemen are on standby but we don’t know what can happen after this. “
400 Nigerians in S’Africa, ready to come home
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Mission in South Africa says no fewer than 400 Nigerians have indicated interest and registered to be evacuated from South Africa following the recent xenophobic attacks.
Nigeria’s Consul General in Johannesburg, Godwin Adama, said this in a telephone interview with News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja.
Adama said that Air Peace had offered to airlift those willing to return home following attacks on Nigerians and their businesses by South Africans.
According to him, the first batch of Nigerians who are willing to return home will be repatriated on Wednesday.
“We have more than enough for that aircraft. Over 400 Nigerians have already registered; more are still coming,’’ he said.
The Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, Kabiru Bala, also said that Nigerians had responded positively in good numbers.
Bala said, “We are documenting them. Those without travel documents, we shall provide them with emergency travel certificates.
“There are other governmental procedures that we must observe. Relevant agencies of government in Nigeria must be informed and must be ready to receive the returnees.
“Hard work is now going on at the High Commission and Consulate in this regard. As soon as all procedures and relevant protocols are observed, the return is assured and guaranteed.
“A little more patience will be helpful. The response of Nigerians is just amazing.’’
Also, the President, Nigeria Citizens Association, South Africa, Ben Okoli, said all efforts were geared towards evacuation of those who were ready to come back home.
Okoli said, “The consulate is sorting out the issue of documents. Nigerians are being registered and issued with the necessary travel documents to enable them to make the trip to Lagos.
“Some lost their passports in their homes and businesses from the fire that gutted them, while others had their documents and property stolen.”
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The association, he said, was still pushing ahead with the demand for compensation as there was sufficient evidence available to them that the attacks were premeditated and orchestrated.
Don’t attack South African firms operated by Nigerians, NIM tells youths
Meanwhile, the Third Force Movement on the auspices of the Nigeria Intervention Movement on Sunday warned Nigerians to avoid attacking business interests being operated on franchise by fellow Nigerians.
It said the protesters’ anger should be directed at individual business concerns and projects of South Africans as well as their diplomatic mission in Nigeria.
The movement’s position was contained in a statement made available to journalists by its National Publicity Secretary, Dr Olusegun Obe.
“The NIM wishes to issue a strong caution on protesting youths and students that they should henceforth be mindful of South African properties and business interests in Nigeria operated on franchise by fellow Nigerians in the course of their retaliatory mass action to checkmate offensive xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa,” Obe said.
SERAP wants $10bn compensation for xenophobic victims
On its part, an advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, urged the African Commission to sue the South African government over the relentless xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other African nationals in the country.
SERAP urged the attorney-general to push for $10bn compensation for the victims.
SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oludare, said in a statement on Sunday that the organisation wrote to the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Mrs Soyata Maiga.
SERAP urged Maiga to institute a legal action against South Africa at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The group said, “This is a key moment for the commission to push to protect the human rights of the victims. The commission ought to make it clear to the South African authorities that the victims of the heinous crimes have a right to an effective remedy and reparation, which includes restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition”.
Stop justifying xenophobic attacks, Falana tells S’Africa
Also, a human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), urged the South African government to address drug trafficking in its country instead of justifying xenophobic attacks carried out by its citizens.
In his statement titled, ‘South Africa government should stop justifying xenophobic attacks’, Falana maintained that many Nigerian youths’ involvement in drugs out of frustration, like their South African counterparts’ should not be basis for calling all Nigerians drug addicts.
He noted, “While pretending to condemn the attacks, the Cyril Ramaphosa regime has said that many Nigerians living in South Africa are drug addicts!
“This is an unfortunate statement as the authorities in Pretoria ought to have arrested, prosecuted and jailed the Nigerians allegedly involved in drug trafficking in South Africa.
“Are we to believe that the immigrants from other African countries have been attacked because of their involvement in the drug business?”
Nigerians in detention for visa violations to be repatriated
The National Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, South Africa, Archbishop Benson Uhwa, said arrangements were being made to evacuate Nigerians in police custody back to Nigeria.
He explained that many Nigerians detained for visa violations had been languishing in South African police custody for a long time.
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Uhwa, a member the Nigerian community coordinating the evacuation of Nigerians over the ongoing xenophobic attacks in South Africa, informed one of our correspondents on the phone on Sunday that the South African authorities refused to deport the detainees, claiming that they had no funds for their flight.