Following renewed xenophobic attacks on immigrants, Nigerians have launched an attack on South Africans living in their country asking them to return to their home country.
A group of Nigerians reportedly staged an anti-xenophobia protest outside the South African embassy in the capital Abuja on Wednesday, calling on South African nationals to shut down their businesses and equally leave their country.
The charge by the Nigerians comes as a reprisal attack to a renewed xenophobic violence that has rocked parts of the South African community leading to mass destruction of properties belonging to foreigners, mostly Nigerians.
The mass protest was also in reaction to a planned protest against foreigners in SA scheduled to kick-start on Friday. The Mamelodi Concerned Residents in Pretoria intended to march to the Home Affairs Department to protest against government allowing immigrants into the country.
Despite all warnings by the Home Affairs department, the group insisted it will go ahead with the demonstration on Friday despite the Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) rejecting their application.
According to BBC Live, the protest, organised by members of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, urged the South African government to urgently address the situation.
The protesters carried placards such as “South Africa we say stop killing our people” and chanted slogans denouncing the attacks, the report said.
“We are doing this because of the killings taking place in South Africa, we want to express our displeasure over that and urge them to take measures to address the situation.
“We presented a petition in which we want them to call their people to order. We have foreigners here and it will not be good if there is reprisal attacks that will not make world a peaceful place to live,” one of the protesters was quoted as saying.
Speaking on the surprise invasion, a senior manager in the MTN Abuja Office located in the Maitama district condemned the attack saying Nigerians could have laid out their complaints in a more civilized manner.
“They came, opened the gate, entered and harassed people. They stole customers’ phones; they stole the phones and laptops of staff. There were up to 30 policemen but they didn’t do anything to stop them.
“Nobody is happy over what is happening in South Africa. I understand that people have the right to be angry over what is happening there but this is not the best way to go about it.
“They could have come here and say, ‘Shut down this place; you can no longer operate’ but not to attack Nigerians who work here and those who came here to repair their phones is unfortunate”.
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba had earlier warned against the planned attacks and counter attacks, he said there would be no progressive and sustainable victory in xenophobic violence and therefore, opportunistic individuals who partake in it “erode the human face we have struggled very hard to acquire.”
He said in other parts of the world immigration has taken centre stage and has proven to be an emotive and contentious issue. It has been used to divide global citizens, with the view that it poses a serious threat and socioeconomic challenges for receiving countries.
“South Africa is not unique in this regard. Many countries are wrestling with anti-immigrant sentiments. Its manifestations may be seen in some of the issues affecting communities, and are discernible also in the issues exploited to perpetrate criminal activities,” said the home affairs minister.
“Our democracy enshrines our hard-earned human rights. We are first and foremost humans. This reality cannot be diluted by your country of origin or what documents you hold, or lack thereof,” said the home affairs minister.
“Humanity, within the context of our constitution, is not only a cultural prescription of Ubuntu, it is also about legal compliance, and respect for rights of all persons.” Gigaba reminds citizens.
Similarly, Nigeria called on the African Union (AU) to intervene as a matter of urgency to halt xenophobic attacks of other African nationals in South Africa.
The country said with the current spate of attacks, it seemed that the South African government had lost control of the situation.