Angry Nigerians in Abuja have allegedly given South African residents in their country until Tuesday to vacate their land in order to avoid bloodshed.
The warning came amid the violent spate of xenophobic attacks that have gripped parts of Gauteng, particularly Pretoria, in the past two weeks.
The South African high commissioner in Abuja, Lulu Mnguni, told The Citizen by telephone on Monday that South Africans’ lives had been threatened by the National Association of Nigerian Students, who have given them 48 hours to vacate the country.
“The expiry date is tomorrow [Tuesday],” said Mnguni.
He said security had been beefed up to protect South Africans in Nigeria.
Mnguni said although South Africans feared for their lives, he urged them to remain calm, limit their movement and be vigilant while moving around.
Nigerians in Abuja bemoaned the South African government’s alleged failure to prosecute perpetrators of xenophobic attacks, saying they had granted the perpetrators “a licence to kill foreign nationals”.
In retaliation to the violence in South Africa, Nigerians allegedly embarked on a protest, “harassed” South African staff members from MTN in Abuja and “stole customers’ phones and staff laptops”. This allegedly took place in full view of 30 police officers, who took no action.
Speaking to The Citizen from Nigeria, Chief Andrew Elijah of Ijaw Monitoring Group said Nigerians were expressing their anger to draw attention to the plight of their countrymen in South Africa, but condemned such behaviour.
Elijah lambasted the South African government, saying its “silence has given a group of criminals the licence to kill”.
He added they had not read any media reports relating to convictions for such criminal conduct.
However, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba’s spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete had a different view, saying perpetrators of such violence were apprehended and prosecuted.
He referred to Operation Fiela in which thousands were arrested for different crimes, including xenophobic attacks.
Tshwete said those who resorted to violent behaviour were ignorant and not representative of the policies of the Nigerian and South African governments.
Elijah said Africans were supposed to express love towards one another, but it was unfortunate that there was enmity among them, adding this was totally unacceptable and that “God Almighty will not be happy with this”.
Former vice-chairperson of the Nigerian Union in Gauteng, Prince Agonaemi Evah, said no Nigerians had been killed in South Africa and recent spates of violence were not related to xenophobia.
Evah said South Africans were expressing their concerns about foreign nationals who were involved in prostitution and drug trafficking.
“There is a lot of misunderstanding and people back at home believe Nigerians have been killed, whereas no Nigerians have been killed. South Africans are not against foreigners, but are against the businesses they are engaging in. Police should take action against such criminality,” he said.
Evah said they had engaged in campaigns against prostitution and drug trafficking in their community because such actions “give us a bad name back in Nigeria and everybody thinks we are all involved”.