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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

‘Nigerians aren’t criminals, Ramaphosa and Buhari’

Nigerians living in SA blame civil servants and police for fuelling xenophobia through alleged anti-foreigner attitudes.

Nigerians living in South Africa have welcomed the upcoming state visit by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari but they want him and President Cyril Ramaphosa to address SA’s immigration laws and the criminalisation of foreigners by South African immigration officials and police.

They blamed civil servants and police for fuelling xenophobia through alleged anti-foreigner attitudes.

SJ Uba, secretary-general of the Nigerian Citizens Association South Africa (Nicasa), said SA’s immigration laws criminalised foreigners because it took long for the country’s bureaucracy to process documents.

Uba claimed they also experienced ill-treatment and negative attitudes from civil servants and the police.

Buhari is expected to arrive in South Africa tomorrow.

It appeared the two countries had put the tension around the recent xenophobic attacks behind them to prioritise the strengthening of relations.

The total value of trade between SA and Nigeria amounted to R50.8 billion last year.

Major exports to Nigeria include machinery and mechanical appliances, and mineral and chemical products. Major products imported from Nigeria include base metals, vegetable products, and machinery and mechanical appliances.

The ties between Pretoria and Abuja, particularly with the governing ANC, came a long way since Nigeria trained members of the ANC’s former military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, in their fight against apartheid.

The countries formally established diplomatic, economic and social relations in 1994, that culminated in the signing of a Bi-National Commission (BNC) in 1999.

The Ramaphosa administration recently sent envoys to apologise to Nigeria for the recent xenophobic violence in South Africa.

African Diaspora Forum chair, Vusimuzi Sibanda, said the visit by Buhari symbolised that things have improved after the recent xenophobic attacks.

He believes the envoys sent by Ramaphosa to Nigeria had played a role to calm things down.

“They might have fought in-camera and resolved things,” he said.

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