Xenophobia: SA apologises to Nigeria

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019 00:00 |
South Africa has been rocked by a wave of unrest and xenophobic violence this month. Photo/BBC

Abuja, Tuesday

South Africa has apologised to Nigeria over a spate of xenophobic attacks which led to a spike in tensions between the two countries.

Twelve people were killed earlier this month when mobs attacked foreign-owned businesses, mainly in Jo’burg.

A special envoy from South Africa presented an apology to Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday.

The envoy, Jeff Radebe, expressed the country’s “sincerest apologies” at a meeting in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. “The incident does not represent what we stand for,” he said.

Radebe also told Buhari that the South African government condemned the violence and was taking decisive action.

Buhari thanked Radebe for “coming to explain to us what happened in South Africa recently, leading to (the) killing and displacement of foreigners”. 

“President Buhari responded to profuse apologies from the South African president, pledging that the relationship between the two countries will be solidified,” a statement from his office said.

Last week, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa told the BBC that he felt ashamed by the recent violence. “We are very concerned and of course as a nation we (are) ashamed because this goes against the ethos of what South Africa stands for.” 

No Nigerians were killed in the violence in South Africa, but Nigerian-owned shops and businesses are believed to have been targeted by the mobs.

Of the 12 people who were killed, 10 are reported to have been South African nationals and two were from Zimbabwe.

Nigeria has been outspoken in its condemnation of the violence. A fortnight ago, it withdrew a delegation from a major international conference taking place in South Africa.

Tensions were inflamed after videos and images were shared on social media purporting to show Nigerians being attacked and killed. 

The Nigerian government said there was no evidence this had taken place. But it did say Nigerian-owned businesses had been targeted. -BBC

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