Nigerians resident in South Africa have been advised to avoid the Pretoria Central Business District (CBD) until the Police authorities certify the area safe for foreign nationals.
The Nigerian Union in South Africa (NUSA) gave the counsel in the wake of xenophobic attacks early yesterday following the torching of a shop belonging to a Nigerian in the business district.
NUSA’s warning came on a day South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa said that his administration was upset about the protracted killings of Nigerians in the former apartheid enclave.
Ramaphosa spoke in Yokohama, Japan, after holding a bilateral talk with President Muhammadu Buhari on the sidelines of the ongoing seventh Tokyo International Conference for Africa Development (TICAD7) in Yokohama, Japan.
According to him, the trend had necessitated the call for a meeting of the leaders of both countries on how to promptly nip the matter in the bud.
In a statement yesterday, NUSA’s President, Adetola Olubajo said: “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 violent revolt and looting have been fueled 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 him, only two Nigerian-owned businesses were identified to be affected when he issued the statement. The affected stores were identified as Furniture/Electronics shop on Sisulu Street and Gold Exchange Business on Lillan Ngoyi Street. They were looted before being set ablaze by the rioters.
He said: “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.”
Ten suspects have been arrested for possession of suspected stolen items, while an additional seven have been arrested for public violence, the statement added.
Over the years, Nigerians in South Africa have become victims of xenophobic killings by citizens of their host countries who often unjustifiably accuse them of robbing them of job opportunities in their own countries.
The killings prompted some Nigerian students to recently stage a range of protests at the premises of some companies linked to South Africans, threatening to shut them down if the killings of their fellow citizens in South Africa do not stop.
Ramaphosa said his country’s justice system had already taken up the matter.
He said he was not in support of the killings, and insisted that there was no justifiable reason for anybody to be killed.
He described the meeting he had with Buhari as a good forum for South Africa and Nigeria to renew the bond of unity between them and simultaneously share together issues of common interest in the overall interest of the African continent.
Ramaphosa said: “Well, no, no, we are going to be discussing all that because we have very good relations. We’ll talk about the issue of Nigerians who are dying in South Africa. We feel very upset about that.
“Obviously, our criminal justice system is working on it. We don’t support killings. Nobody should ever be killed, but it’s also good to use this opportunity here in Japan to renew the bond between us, to talk about common things between South Africa and Nigeria. We know we have to play key roles in the overall development of the continent.”