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Xenophobic Attacks: Militants Threaten MTN, Others, Obasanjo Berates South African Leaders

mtn_building

Chukwudi Akasike, Samuel Awoyinfa, Leke Baiyewu and Adelani Adepegba

A coalition of Niger Delta militants, on Wednesday, threatened to blow up Multichoice, owner of DSTV; MTN, Shoprite and 16 other major South African investments in Nigeria if the Federal Government failed to shut them down within one month.

The militant groups, who were reacting to the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and their business premises in South Africa, gave a one-month ultimatum to South Africans living in Nigeria to leave the country and relocate elsewhere.

The threat from the militant groups – Niger Delta Watchdogs, Niger Delta Volunteers and Niger Delta Strike Force – is contained in a copy of a letter, addressed to the Office of the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, located at 71 Usuma Street, Off Gana Street, Abuja.

Signatories to the letter are ‘General’ John Duku (Niger Delta Watchdogs); ‘General’ Ekpo Ekpo (Niger Delta Volunteer); and ‘General’ Hart Bradford (Niger Delta Strike Force).

According to the letter titled ‘Attack and killings of Nigerians living in South Africa’, the militants expressed anger that the South African Police were shielding criminals and joining them (criminals) to kill Nigerians.

Apart from MTN, DSTV and Shoprite, some of the South African companies in Nigeria listed for attack by the militants are Eskom Nigeria, South African Breweries (SAB Miller), Umgeni Water, Refresh Product, LTA Construction and Protea Hotels.

Others, according to the letter, are Critical Rescue International, Global Outdoor Semces, PEP Retail Stores, Woolworths Holdings Limited, Truworths International Limited, Clover Industries, Oracle, Power Giant and Airtime.

The militants added, “Arising from the joint meeting of the Niger Delta Watchdogs, Niger Delta Volunteers and Niger Delta Strike Force, held today (Wednesday) in Port Harcourt, we condemn the recent attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.

“We want to state that the recent attacks (on Nigerians in South Africa) will mark the end of this nonsense because we will not fold our arms and allow this to continue. We, therefore, call on the Nigerian Government to immediately close down all the businesses owned by South Africans in Nigeria.

“Failure to close down these companies within one month, we shall mobilise in full force and commence massive attacks on the above-mentioned South African-owned investments in Nigeria. We shall also make sure that all MTN masts and offices are brought down to nought.

“We shall strike any property and persons from South Africa within our reach; we will bring down Multichoice (DSTV), Shoprite and others. We will not fold our arms and watch you (South Africans) slaughter our people like chickens for no just cause.

“We are fully prepared; our professional fighters are already strategising, South Africans must be crushed in Nigeria; our people must be free from these wicked agents.”

The militant groups pointed out that the one-month ultimatum was enough for South Africans to relocate and leave Nigeria, even as they warned Nigerians against patronising South Africans business concerns on the expiration of the ultimatum to avoid casualties.

Accusing the South African Government of plotting to kill Nigerians within its territory, by all means, the Niger Delta agitators cautioned that they would not allow such a plan to be executed.

“How can you explain a situation where the police clobbered defenceless Nigerian citizens to death without any provocation?” the militants asked.

They observed that the South African Government and her citizens possessed the highest number of business operations in Nigeria by a foreign country and making huge profits and living in a peaceful environment with nobody attacking them.

“But our people in South Africa have been unjustly subjected to torture, killings, looting of their belongings as well as burning down of their business premises/apartments,” they added.

Obasanjo berates S’African leaders, youths

Meanwhile, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has condemned attacks by South African youths on Nigerians and other African nationals in the former apartheid enclave, blaming the development on the insincerity of the government and the leaders of the country.

He said this on Wednesday in Abeokuta while receiving the management of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos, led by its chairman, Maj. Gen. Lawrence Onoja (retd.).

The former President, who received the delegation at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, said the current development in South Africa betrayed the contributions of Nigeria to the struggle for the emancipation of the country during the apartheid era.

Obasanjo, who blamed the exodus of Nigerians and other African nationals in search for greener pastures, however, called on African heads of government to ensure good governance for the overall development of the continent and its teeming population.

He blamed South African youths for their immaturity while hitting their leaders more for allowing fellow Africans to rise against themselves.

He stated, “Youths can be so immature; they may not understand what Africa stands for; what our continental organisations stand for.  But if the youth do not understand what happened, what happen to the leadership?

“I will blame the youth of the country for the attacks but I will blame the leaders more in any country that allows xenophobic attacks against fellow Africans for whatever reason.

“Having said that, it is also the responsibility of every one of us in our different countries to prepare our countries so that our youths, who think that there is an Eldorado somewhere outside their countries, will be made to know that there are no greener pastures anywhere.

“The greener pastures is here in your country. I feel disheartened to know that many of our youths perish while crossing the Sahara desert or the Mediterranean.”

Ekweremadu heads Senate delegation to South Africa

Also, on Wednesday, the Senate named members of its delegation to South Africa to investigate the ongoing xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in the country.

Senate President Bukola Saraki made the announcement at plenary on Wednesday.

Members of the delegation are the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Leader of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan; and the Chief Whip, Senator Sola Adeyeye.

Others are Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Shehu Sani; Senator Stella Oduah, Senator Magnus Abe and Senator Shaba Lafiaji.

Nigeria won’t recall envoy in S’Africa, says FG

Also, the Federal Government has ruled out the possibility of recalling its High Commissioner to South Africa in protest against the renewed xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in the former apartheid enclave.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Olusola Enikanolaye, stated this in Abuja while responding to callers on ‘Tuesday night’ in an interactive programme on Nigerian Television Authority on xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.

Enikanolaye said Nigeria had two representatives in South Africa – an Acting High Commissioner and a deputy – who he said had been doing a great job attending to the situation accordingly.

He said, “We are in touch with our representative in South Africa, Amb. Martins Kuban, the Acting High Commissioner in Pretoria, and Amb. Okeke, the deputy, in Johannesburg.

“Really we do not think we need to recall our envoys in South Africa because they are doing a great job; they are regularly in touch with the community leaders. They have dedicated telephone lines to Nigerians in South Africa to report any occurrence. They are doing a great job and in our view, there is no need to recall them home.”

Enikanolaye added that Nigeria was working round the clock to ensure that the issue was diplomatically addressed, saying the ministry had had a series of meetings with the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria.  (Punchng.com)

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South African Police Chief Defends Decision To Authorise Anti-Immigrant March

Acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane has dismissed suggestions that the march was aimed at foreigners.

Group of protesters says they want to search foreign owned shops. Picture: Clement Manyathela/EWN.

PRETORIA – Acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane has defended the decision to authorise Friday’s anti-immigrant march in Pretoria, saying people have the right to express their views.

The police had their hands full in Atteridgeville, Marabastad, the Pretoria inner city and Sunnyside, trying to prevent clashes between citizens and non-nationals.

Stun grenades, rubber bullets and water cannon were used to control the situation, while at least 137 people were arrested in the capital during anti-xenophobia operations.

Despite the march explicitly being touted as being against immigrants and not anti-drug or anti-crime, Lieutenant Phahlane says it was legitimately approved.

“Our Constitution provides for people to express their views. Facts before the authorities were considered and they deemed it fit that with what was at their disposal, that the march is granted.”

He has dismissed suggestions that the march was aimed at foreigners.

“The march was about people, amongst others, that are not South African nationals involved in crime.”

Phahlane says the police will remain on high alert and deployed at hotspot areas.

Watch the violent scene of the anti-immigrant protest in Pretoria

I DOUBT SOUTH AFRICANS ARE XENOPHOBIC

Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma has described the outbreak of violence during the march as complex, saying South Africans and foreign nationals need to be understanding of one another.

President Zuma was speaking on the sidelines at the launch of Operation Phakisa in Pretoria.

He said South Africa has a leading economy on the continent and that’s why many people migrate here.

The president said the outbreak of violence in Pretoria is not xenophobic but is really aimed at crime.

He also urged political leaders visiting the affected areas not to say the wrong things.

“Let us help to cool down the situation; make people understand, talk to the police and talk to the foreigners. That is what they should do rather than be making statements that actually exacerbate the feelings of the people.”

Zuma said whether South Africans are xenophobic or not is up for debate but that he doubts South Africans are xenophobic.

“I think we love using phrases in South Africa that at the time cause unnecessary perceptions about us. I think we are not [xenophobic], it’s not the first time we’re with the foreigners here.”

He said government does know many foreign nationals who come here aren’t refugees but are looking for jobs and to make a better living.

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Xenophobia: Reprisal Attacks Will Hurt Nigerians More, Says Elendu-Ukeje

 Victor Oluwasegun

Xenophobia: Reprisal attacks will hurt  Nigerians more - Elendu-Ukeje

Elendu-Ukeje

Hon. Nnena Elendu-Ukeje is the Chairperson, House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs. The lawmaker, who represents Bende Federal Constituency in Abia State in the Green Chamber, speaks with Victor Oluwasegun on the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa and the implication for the relations between Nigeria and South Africa. Excerpts 

THIS is the second xenophobic attack on Nigerians in South Africa; in your opinion, what should be done? In the recent past, the last very notorious xenophobic attack was in 2015, where of course they targeted citizens from Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe and Asians as well. And the excuse then was that there were no jobs that foreigners were taking over their jobs.

Now, it is important to point out that 10 lives were lost, no Nigerian life was lost. Based on our interaction with the ministry at the time it was said that goods worth 84 million Naira was lost during the crisis to Nigerians. And of course, the claim was forwarded to the South African Government, the South African Government brought it up again at the Bi-National Commission thing and claimed recompense is being worked out for the Nigerian businesses that had been lost. Now, this time around it’s about property tax for foreigners and so on and so forth. But I also think it is important to point out that what happened in 2015 was the violent minority because we also had peace rallies by the generality of South Africans decrying xenophobic attacks by a violent minority. Now, it has come up again. It speaks of South African xenophobia tendencies; South Africans are notorious for their xenophobic tendencies and any excuse to do that.

At the time there were conversations about bringing it before the AU, to have conservations that you can’t lead the African Union and clearly despise Africans. Those conversations were ongoing. But it was resolved that President Jacob Zuma called out the forces, they quelled the attack of foreigners; there was a promise that they were going to be quickly brought to book, etcetera. But now let’s fast forward two years. I think what has created more hysteria are the reports from government quarters where the Special Adviser to the President has said there have been 169 deaths unsubstantiated because, by my records, there is no such thing.

Now the issue is, it is not institutionalised because it’s not the South African Government that is attacking Nigerians; it’s a violent minority. In treating this violent minority, we will have to rely on their institutions in bringing these people to book.

Now, what can the Nigerian Government do in engaging with the South Africans?

By constitutional provisions, we will deal with the issue through dialogue, through conciliations to reconciliations to having conversations. I believe the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has invited the ambassador; they’ve spoken to him and he’s given his unreserved apology. And I believe because of the anger, they’re inviting him again today (Thursday) to have another conversation with him. Now, we’re a little handicapped because we recognise that we don’t have an ambassador in South Africa. But it does not mean that we don’t have people in the mission in South Africa. But, I know that they’re inviting him today and we’re going to be asking as a country that the perpetrators of this crime be brought to book. We’re also going to be collating the loss again to Nigeria citizens. And that was why the House of Representatives decided – and why I supported the motion -that when conventional means of diplomacy fails, other unconventional means of diplomacy must be deployed. And one of them is legislative diplomacy, where we will be engaging with members of the South African Parliament, to intimate them on what it does to their country, how they’re viewed as another country, as the two pivots upon which Africa stands – South Africa and Nigeria – we think it’s important that South Africa in maintaining that quasi- leadership position, must also be seen to be leaders in the continent.

Of course, the Nigerian position is that we act as Big Brother, which is not something that is admired or agreed to by a vast majority of Nigerians, but Nigerians do not ever attack non- Nigerians. Quite the contrary, Nigerians are seen to protect other Africans, to protect their democracies, protect their country, protect their ways of life and we think it’s time to tell the South Africans that that is the way leadership is run.

Now, through diplomatic means, which is what the ministry is already doing, they’re speaking to them,  they’re having a conversation, we’re speaking about recompense and reminding them of the treaty of hospitality and the fact that the citizens of any country that resides within South Africa are their core responsibility. We’re reminding the government, but we’re hoping that the parliament can speak to the citizens because right now, it’s not about the government, it’s not the government that is carrying it out, it’s the citizens, and we’re hoping that with this alternative means of diplomacy, that the message from Nigeria will carry.

There seem to be insinuations that if this happens again, Nigerians will retaliate. Is this the way to go?

I do not think that is the way to go. It’s not in the character of Nigerians to be violent for no reason. And I’m saying we have large Nigerian communities in South Africa; you can reciprocate when your numbers are the same. People are saying burn down South African businesses and I make the point to most people that the Proteas are actually Nigerian businesses owned by Nigeria’s and run by Nigerians. For the benefit of Nigeria, Proteas Hotel has Nigerian facilitators. So, to burn down a Protea in Nigeria, you are burning down a Nigerian business. I mean most of these companies are Nigerian companies that just have management and are franchised out to South African brands. Shoprite is run by Nigerians, the Nigerian Government owns Shoprite in every state. It’s Nigerian money, it’s just Shoprite management. So, are we going to burn down our businesses? I just think we need to wait. I understand the knee-jerk reaction, but like I said, it’s in reaction to the unsubstantiated reports. Because until we had the investigation until we spoke to the ministry, we did not know that no Nigerian life was lost in 2015.

What is happening is wrong but even in reacting, we should as government officials be circumspect in the kind of information we give out there because of reaction to that information. Of course, we’re going to have those conversations but let us also recognise that we also have jurisdictional challenges. That what we can do in a Nigeria situation within the confines of our country is totally different from what we can do in another person’s country. We can ask, there can be moral suasion; we can put subtle pressures; we can take it to the international organisations where we all belong to and try to push an agenda that speaks to that issue. We can lobby other countries to get stringent international sanctions for xenophobia at the AU level or through ECOWAS or SADC

We are putting moral suasion, but we’re going to look for other international means to deal with the issue. My suggestion and I said it in 2015 that it should be brought before the African Union.

But the Minister said on television that we haven’t reached the level of the AU, that it is being handled on Bi- national level. Do you think it has reached that level?

We don’t have another AU meeting until I think April or so. I’m hoping it does get to that stage. Whether it gets to that level or not, the problem is that xenophobic attacks in South Africa is becoming a recurring decimal and I think we must start to make the arrangements to have the conversation about South Africa’s treatment of other nationals.

Are you satisfied with what the Federal Government has done through the intervention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the issue so far?

I recognise that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is doing the best they can do, it has summoned the South African ambassador to convey in very strongly worded terms Nigeria’s displeasure at the continued attack on Nigerians. I think they have done the best they can.

What has the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House done on this issue so far?

We’ve engaged. We’ve spoken and they’ve given us the information we require, and we’re waiting for their outcomes. We know they’re trying to collate the amount of money…to put a value to what has been lost, investigate what it is and we’re waiting for the outcome with the minister.  So, I think for us to react will be based on what the outcomes with the ambassador are. But we have to wait for them to walk that road, and then get back to the committee.

Do you think the proposed delegation of the House of Representatives to South Africa will achieve much?

I think the House delegation is alternative diplomacy and like I said initially, that when conventional means of diplomacy don’t work, legislative diplomacy is an acceptable means of diplomacy wherein you engage with the people and take a direct message from your people to their parliament with the hope that they would transmit to their people. (The Nation)

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Xenophobic Attacks: Nigerians Vow To Stay Put In South Africa

 

…as foreigners confront anti-immigrant protesters in Pretoria

Gbenro Adeoye, Jesusegun Alagbe and Eric Dumo  with agency report

Despite repeated xenophobic attacks, some Nigerians in South Africa have said they would not return home.

Citing unemployment, insecurity, kidnappings, poor infrastructure and epileptic power supply, the Nigerians described returning to the country as returning to a “hardship zone.”

Some others said it would be difficult to leave South Africa as they had nothing to fall back on in Nigeria.

There are over 800,000 Nigerians living in South Africa, according to the Nigerian Union South Africa, with many of them based in Johannesburg.

However, those living in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital, have in recent days witnessed violence reminiscent of the last major wave of xenophobic attacks that hit Johannesburg and Durban in 2015, in which about seven Nigerians died.

In the recent attacks which started early February 2017, at least 20 shops and homes — belonging to foreigners, mostly Nigerians — were looted and burned, as stated by the South African police.

In spite of the attacks, a Nigerian living in Pretoria, Muyiwa Adebola, said he would not return home.

Having worked as an auto-mechanic in the South African city for about five years, he said it would be “unwise” to leave now.

“This is where I have my source of livelihood. This is where I have been working for the past five years to take care of my family in Nigeria. I cannot leave now because of the attacks,” the 38-year-old said.

Making reference to unemployment, poor infrastructure, among others, Adebola said the only reason he would return to Nigeria is if things were working properly.

He said, “They have good roads here, potable water, constant power supply and you don’t often hear of kidnapping. As an auto mechanic, I’m also better paid here than when I was in Nigeria.

“Personally, I’m not deterred by the attacks, even though it’s worrying. I know things would calm down again and we could carry on with our normal businesses.”

Seun Komolafe, who has lived in the former apartheid colony for about nine years, said the reason for the attacks is that “South Africans see Nigerians as a threat to their survival because of our hardworking nature.”

He said, “The reason why many of us have decided to remain in South Africa is because things have yet to work properly in Nigeria. Getting a job with your academic qualification is easier here than in Nigeria.

“Over the last few days, I have spoken to many of our people here who would have loved to come back to Nigeria but can’t do so yet because they don’t know what to survive on if they return.

“The people here are very hostile to Nigerians. They see us as a threat in every way because we are hardworking and considerate to the feelings of others, while many of them are lazy and selfish.”

Meanwhile, Komolafe said he would love to return to Nigeria only if there were job opportunities.

Mr Gabriel Eze, a resident of Johannesburg for 10 years, is a luxury store owner in the city. Eze said since he had invested all his life in the business, it would be foolish to leave now.

He said, “My family is here, so there’s nothing to come and do at home. Where you succeed is where you call home. I was struggling in Nigeria before I came here in 2007.

“If you think of the attacks, you would do nothing. I have insured my business. So if anything happens, I’ll not be too sad. I may only think of returning to Nigeria if there is no kidnapping, epileptic power supply and poor infrastructure. To be sincere, these are the things that drove us out of Nigeria.”

Eze added that his interactions with fellow Nigerians in South Africa showed that many of them were not willing to come back to the country.

“Some of them have become established or they are about to, so it’s not easy to leave like that. I know of friends who have relocated from Pretoria to another county after the attacks. The hustle continues. To come home is like returning to a ‘hardship zone,’” he said.

Abdulrahman Abubakar, who has lived in Pretoria for 12 years, also cited poor infrastructure as a reason for not willing to return to Nigeria.

He said, “Some of us here were discussing in respect of the recent attacks. If there were infrastructural facilities in Nigeria, we would all come home. In fact, if it is only electricity that the government can fix, we will come. That’s why some of us came to South Africa.”

A Nigerian living in Johannesburg Central, Mr Ade Adesina, also said he was not planning on returning to Nigeria despite the xenophobic attacks.

He said, “The South African government has not asked us to leave so I will remain in the country.

“The things we take for granted here (in South Africa) are not in Nigeria. In Nigeria, such things as power supply, good infrastructure and so on are considered as a luxury, so what is there to return to?”

Also, in a conversation Saturday PUNCH had with the Public Relations Officer of NUSA, Mr Emeka Collins, he said that despite the attacks, most Nigerians were not willing to return to the country.

“My observation is that many Nigerians still want to remain in South Africa. Some of them are contented living here due to the hardship at home,” he said.

Collins said the Nigerian Consul General in South Africa, Ambassador (Mrs.) Uche Ajulu-Okeke, visited the victims of the latest attacks on Wednesday.

The Secretary General of NUSA, Mr Adetola Olubajo, also confirmed that “most” Nigerians he spoke with were not planning to return to Nigeria despite the attacks.

“The Consul General visited the police to report the attacks and I believe everything is normal now,” he said.

For Nigerians considering to return home but have no means of doing so, the Federal Government has asked them to contact the Nigerian High Commission in Johannesburg.

When asked whether the government would consider providing a free flight for them, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said, “There is a procedure for that. Those willing to return home would have to go to the commission in Johannesburg to liaise with it first.”

Nigerians and other foreigners clashed with anti-immigrant protesters on Friday in Pretoria, South Africa.

A South African group called Mamelodi Concerned Residents, which led the anti-immigrant march, blamed foreign nationals, including Nigerians, for taking South African jobs and accused them of running prostitution rings and drugs.

The group had in recent weeks launched a series of attacks on migrants, particularly Nigerians, living in Pretoria.

However, Friday’s ‘xenophobic’ attacks were resisted by Nigerians and other foreigners, resulting into clashes between South Africans and foreigners, British Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Eyewitnesses reported that Nigerians were seen confronting their attackers with knives, sticks and guns.

During the anti-immigrant protest, there were reports of looting, violence and destruction of property belonging to foreigners.

A resident of Johannesburg, South Africa, via his twitter handle, @IdahPeterside, said, “It’s a stand-off in Pretoria. Nigerians have refused to hide. The South Africans are being confronted by Nigerians carrying guns.”

A Nigerian living in Pretoria, Mr Abdulraman Abubakar, confirmed the clashes to Saturday PUNCH.

He said, “There were clashes between South Africans and foreigners this morning in different parts of Pretoria. The police are firing rubber bullets as we speak.”

Meanwhile, the South African Police Force said on Friday that it had arrested over 136 people in Pretoria following an anti-immigrant protest which held in the city.

The South African National Police Chief, Khomotso Phahlane, said the protesters were arrested during operations that lasted for about 24 hours.

However, it was uncertain how many of those in custody were South Africans and how many were foreigners.

Be that as it may, Phahlane said anyone found to have been inciting violence would be prosecuted.

President Jacob Zuma had also condemned the acts of violence and intimidation directed at African immigrants living in the country.

“It is wrong to brandish all non-nationals as drug dealers or human traffickers. Let us isolate those who commit such crimes and work with the government to have them arrested, without stereotyping and causing harm to innocent people,” Zuma said in a statement.  (Punchng.com)

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PHOTO NEWS: South African Protesters, Nigerians Clash In Pretoria

South African police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to break up clashes between local protesters and migrants in Pretoria on February 24 at a march against immigration.

See photos below

South African police officers detain a Nigerian man during a face-off with a group of South Africans in the centre of Pretoria on February 24, 2017.
/ AFP PHOTO / MARCO LONGARI
Smoke rises from a stun grenade during a stand-off between South African residents and a group of migrants in the center of Pretoria on February 24, 2017.
/ AFP PHOTO / MARCO LONGARI
A South African police officer (L) tries to control a group of Nigerians as they face-off with a group of South Africans during a stand-off in the center of Pretoria on February 24, 2017.
/ AFP PHOTO / MARCO LONGARI
A masked South African demonstrator looks on during stand off with a group of migrants in the center of Pretoria on February 24, 2017.
. / AFP PHOTO / MARCO LONGARI
Nigerians gesture as they face-off with a group of South Africans during a stand-off in the center of Pretoria on February 24, 2017.
/ AFP PHOTO / MARCO LONGARI
Nigerians gesture as they face-off with a group of South Africans during a stand-off in the center of Pretoria on February 24, 2017.
/ AFP PHOTO / MARCO LONGARI
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