Toronto - In response to a fresh outbreak of anti-immigrant violence, South Africa’s Nigerian community is asking the Nigerian government to intervene with South Africa on their behalf.
Toronto – In response to a fresh outbreak of anti-immigrant violence, South Africa’s Nigerian community is asking the Nigerian government to intervene with South Africa on their behalf.
The Nigerian Union in South Africa (NUSA) confirmed on Tuesday a spate of recent attacks being levelled against Nigerian-owned businesses and homes. “Homes and shops of Nigerians were targeted and looted in the events of the past days,” said national public relations director for NUSA, Emeka Ezinteje Collins, citing at least ten recent attacks.
Violence on Friday, allegedly at the hands of a group called the “Mamelodi Concerned Citizens,” have left Nigerians living in fear of further violence, especially with talk of the group holding an upcoming march against foreign nationals.
NUSA has reported receiving a phone call, warning against future violence and then offering protection in exchange for money. Nigerian business owners and private citizens have reported receiving similar extortion calls. In a statement issued, they “implore the South African and Nigerian authorities to intervene early and save the situation before it spills out of hand.”
For their part, Pretoria West police reported the looting of 20 shops, which could be owned by Nigerians, but they claim they cannot begin a formal investigation until the shop owners come forward. Near-record unemployment has led to tensions flaring toward foreign nationals who are accused of stealing jobs and spiking crime rates.
One unemployed man who wished to remain anonymous voiced his feelings on the subject, saying “We are sick and tired of foreigners who are coming to sell drugs and kill our people, we can’t let the community go down like this.” The African Diaspora Forum issued a statement urging immigrants to be watchful of their surroundings following the torching of several cars and homes.
The Nigerian president’s advisor on foreign affairs and the diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said on Monday, “The South African government must take decisive and definitive measures to protect Nigerians and other African nationals.” She continued her comments, calling on the African Union to intervene as well. “Further attacks,” she warned, “without any reprimand may have dire consequences.”
According to NUSA, 800,000 Nigerians live in South Africa, primarily in Johannesburg. The number of Nigerian deaths due to xenophobic violence in the past two years has been estimated at 116, but this figure has yet to be verified.