Buhari’s envoy will meet with President Cyril Ramaphosa to express his concerns.
President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a special envoy to South Africa to express his concerns over recent recent attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.
South African mobs launched attacks on foreigners, including Nigerians, and looted and burnt their places of business in suburbs of Johannesburg and surrounding areas on Sunday, September 1, 2019, and Monday, September 2.
Three people were reported to have been killed in a fire started by a mob on an abandoned building in the Jeppestown area of Johannesburg.
According to Buhari’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina, Buhari sent the envoy to express his concerns to South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and also interact with his South African counterpart.
“The Special Envoy is expected to arrive in Pretoria latest Thursday, September 5, 2019,” the statement read.
Adesina also disclosed that the president had directed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, to summon the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bobby Moroe, to discuss the attacks. The meeting happened on Tuesday afternoon.
While speaking at a media briefing in Abuja after the meeting, Moroe dismissed claims that xenophobia was involved in the attacks.
He said the ‘sporadic acts of violence’ also affected South Africans whose places of business were also looted by mobs.
Over 100 suspects arrested
The South African Police Service (SAPS) disclosed on Monday that 100 suspects were arrested in connection to the violence and will face several charges including public violence, malicious damage to property, and theft.
The suspects were accused of violence and looting of shops owned by foreign nationals in areas including Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and Johannesburg Central.
Officers arrested 20 suspects in Rossettenville, 35 in Malvern, 10 in Thembisa, 26 in Jeppe, and nine in Germiston.
Officers are also investigating a case of murder following the fatal shooting of a member of the public, although no one has been arrested in connection to that.
According to the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJOINTS), at least 20 people were arrested in connection with the attacks on trucks, truck drivers, possession of firearms and dangerous weapons and blocking of roads in the harbour of Richard’s Bay, Malvern (outside Durban) and in the areas of Northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Many had reported that the attacks were connected to the widespread violence and looting and had also targeted foreigners.
South Africa’s Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, briefed Ramaphosa on Monday about the violence which he condemned.
“We need a multi-pronged approach to deal with this violence, I want to see an engagement of the communities by the Gauteng Premier and provincial political structures to find an end to this criminality,” he said.
A history of xenophobia
Nigerians have battled xenophobic attacks in South Africa for years, with at least 127 believed to have been killed over the past three years.
While holding a bilateral meeting with Buhari on the sidelines of the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) last week, Ramaphosa said his government is working hard to end the attacks.
We feel very upset about that. Obviously, our criminal justice system is working on it. We don’t support killings,” Ramaphosa said.
The two leaders are expected to discuss the issue at more length during Buhari’s official visit to South Africa in October.