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Xenophobia: Fresh Wave Of Attack Looms As Armed South African Youths Hit Streets, Ask Foreigners To Leave

Armed South African youths protesters

A fresh round of violence is currently building up in the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa, as armed protesters are out again, demanding that foreigners should return to where they came from.

According to Sowetan Live, a South African newspaper, the protesters, who carried weapons such as knobkerries, are waiting to be addressed by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a notable politician and Zulu tribe leader.

This is coming one week after attacks on foreigners sparked reactions across the continent.

Nigeria, Rwanda and Malawi had pulled out of the World Economic Forum which held in South Africa while Zambia cancelled an international friendly match with South Africa over the violence against foreigners.

In reprisal attacks in Nigeria, South African-owned businesses were targetted. An MTN office was burnt down in Ibadan, Oyo state, while another office of the telecoms giant was vandalised in Abuja.

MTN had to shut its offices nationwide. Shoprite outlets were also targetted in Lagos, forcing the company to halt its operations across the country.

The South Africa High Commission in Nigeria also suspended operations.

During an assessment tour of some of the affected places, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos state, said 5,000 people were currently out of jobs as a result of the reprisal.

The police announced that 125 persons were arrested in connection with the violence while South African authorities said over 400 persons were arrested.

But amid the rift between Nigeria and South Africa, Naledi Pandor, South African minister of foreign affairs, said many Nigerians in her country are involved in drug trafficking. A comment which irked Geoffrey Onyeama, her Nigerian counterpart, who accused her of fuelling xenophobia.

In its report on Sunday, Sowetan Live said the leadership of hostel dwellers in Johannesburg has asked the government to engage the citizens about finding solutions to the clashes with foreign nationals.

Siphiwe Mhlongo, chairman of hostel headmen (izinduna) in Gauteng, was quoted as saying: “We are not happy with how government has tried to resolve the problems that the country is facing. The government must come speak to the people and explain what it is going to do with the foreign nationals who are here illegally.”

He said the residents were angry at jobs being take by foreign nationals, unhappy about drugs and RDP houses being owned by foreigners.

“Everyone who is in South Africa has that feeling that foreign nationals must go back home. But we don’t say foreign nationals must be beaten up; we are the leaders,” he said.

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Xenophobia: Five Nigerians Attacked In South Africa In Fresh Wave Of Attacks

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The Nigerian Union in South Africa, on Tuesday, said five Nigerians had been attacked in Polokwane, Limpopo Province, in renewed xenophobic attacks.

The Secretary of the union in the province, Mr. Collin Mgbo, told the News Agency of Nigeria on the telephone from Polokwane that three of the five Nigerians attacked were in critical conditions in the hospital.

“I received a call that a Nigerian was attacked at Ivy Park in Polokwane on March 15. I got to the scene and saw that the Nigerian was almost dead, his house was looted and burnt,” he said.

Mgbo said another Nigerian was also attacked in the same neighbourhood on the same day and that when he got to the scene, the mob left the wounded man and descended on him.

“They left the wounded Nigerian and faced me. They destroyed my car and I managed to escape and run to a police station,” he said.

The secretary added that three other Nigerians, including the owner of a mechanic’s garage, were attacked at Moledji, near Polokwane.

“Their shops and houses were looted and destroyed. The local chapter of the union has reported these attacks to the South African police, the Nigerian mission and the national secretariat of our union.

“Our national secretariat is on top of the situation. As we speak, the three Nigerians in the hospital are in critical conditions and I do not know if they will survive because of the severity of the attack,” he said.

Mgbo urged the Federal Government to persuade its South African counterpart to ensure the safety of Nigerians in their country.

When contacted on phone, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olusola Enikanolaye, said the ministry had not been briefed about the incident.

He, however, promised to get back to NAN after an inquiry from the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa.

Similar, in February, properties worth millions of dollars belonging to Nigerians were destroyed.

The Federal Government later sent a delegation led by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffry Onyeama, and the Minister of Interior, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd.), to South Africa for discussion on how to curtail the attacks.      (Punchng.com)

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