Xenophobia hub: more Nigerians repatriated from South Africa

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by Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban with Daniel Mumbere

September 18,2019: More Nigerians repatriated

More than 300 Nigerians arrived in the country’s commercial capital, Lagos on Wednesday, having been evacuated from South Africa, following the recent wave of xenophobic attacks.

Local media reported that an Air Peace plane with 315 Nigerians aboard landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport on Wednesday night. This is the second batch of returnees, following last week’s 187.

The Lagos state government reportedly gave $55 to each returnee, with a pledge that they would be transferred to the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, where they can be equipped with different skills.

Nigeria’s government has urged its citizens who are stranded in South Africa to return home, as the latter cracks down on immigrants without proper documentation.

South Africa apologises

Nigeria’s president on Monday thanked his South African counterpart for sending a special envoy to apologise over the recent xenophobic attacks.

The special envoy, Jeff Radebe told president Muhammadu Buhari that the attacks on foreigners do not represent South Africa’s “value system, nor those of the larger number of South Africans”.

Radebe regretted the loss of life during the attacks in which 8 South Africans and 2 Zimbabweans were killed, adding that his country is committed to peace and integration of the continent.

Over the weekend, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced that he would send high-ranking emissaries to reassure different African countries following the xenophobic attacks, in which their nationals were targeted.

Radebe and Buhari, both highlighted the role that Nigeria played during the liberation struggle to end the apartheid system in South Africa.

Buhari is scheduled to visit South Africa next month, a visit that Radebe hopes will solidify the relationship between the two countries.

September 12: South Africa ‘blocking’ Nigerian returnees

The first batch of Nigerians fleeing xenophobic violence in South Africa returned home via the commercial city of Lagos.

But head of the country’s Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa says South Africa had blocked a number of them from leaving citing documentation issues. Reports have said around 600 Nigerians in total were scheduled to return home.

The contingent of about 200 people were flown in aboard privately-owned Nigerian airline, Air Peace. Asked about why only 200 nationals had returned, she responded on Twitter: “South Africa denied almost half of them from coming yesterday. They claimed documentation. But they will still return subsequently.”

Abike Dabiri-Erewa@abikedabiri

South Africa denied almost half of them from coming yesterday . They claimed documentation. But they will still return subsequently .And @flyairpeace Chairman says he is on standby . Great gesture https://twitter.com/POSHMAMA1/status/1172070902328111104 …Yinka.Akib@POSHMAMA1Replying to @nidcom_gov @abikedabiriGood job. I thought there were 600 persons to come home. Where are all the “men of god” with their private jets in this hour of need?. We should leave no man behind.5049:56 AM – Sep 12, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy274 people are talking about this

A number of the returnees expressed joy at being home whiles condemning the violence by South African thugs which forced their decision.

Some of them displayed “No to xenophobia” placards as they descended from the flight. Amongst them were adults, teenagers and children. The airline has been roundly hailed for the gesture, its officials joined in the “No To Xenophobia” campaign.

Emmanuel Iyoha, a returnee told the press: “I went there to South Africa when I was just 6 years old, I spent about 10 years there so coming back, it’s a new experience so I am happy because I feel safe.

“… normally even to go to school I’m scared to go to school and all that like sometimes I can’t even think when my sister is at work, so she is the one I have been thinking of since but I’m happy that I am here.”

“With the whole situation, killing and looting shops and everything. I just decided no, it’s time to come back home,” Temilade Tosunde also said.

Air Peace@flyairpeace

Welcome Home!! @flyairpeace CEO, Mr Allen Onyema welcomes back the Nigerians stranded in South-Africa amid Xenophobic attacks after sending a free evacuation/rescue flight at the MMIA Cargo & Hajj Terminal in Lagos on Wednesday

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September 11: Looting in Mpumalanga Province

As South Africa struggles to curb attacks on foreign-owned businesses, a new attack was reported by a journalist and lawyer who tweets about crime and security issues in the country.

Yusuf Abramjee posted a video on Twitter on Wednesday of an attack on a foreign-owened shop in a suburb of the Mpumalanga province.

Locals are seen carting away materials from a shop as the expatriate owners of the electronic shop fight back by attacking some of the looters.

No reports of deaths or injuries have been recorded in the latest incident. It is the first such in the province given that the violence of last week and early this week was concentrated in Guateng and Kwa Zulu Natal Provinces.

President Ramaphosa had in condemning the violence stressed that measures were being taken to ensure that the violence does not mutate. South Africa has suffered international backlash for the xenophobic attacks.

Yusuf Abramjee@Abramjee

Foreign owned store in eMalahleni (Witbank) CBD looted today. @SAPoliceService @MpumalangaGov1,5218:08 PM – Sep 11, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy2,125 people are talking about this

September 10: Mozambique blasts SA xenophobia

Mozambican president Filipe Nyusi on Tuesday commented on xenophobic incidents in neighbouring South Africa, issuing a stern condemnation of the acts.

The privately-owned STV Noticias reported the president as saying over 500 Mozambicans lost their homes due to the violence.

He also said the government had activated processes to repatriate affected nationals. Mozambique becomes the second African nation to do so.

Nigeria, who have been most vocal in the wake of the violence in Johannesburg and other suburbs said over 600 of its citizens were ready to be airlifted back home.

Meanwhile South African ministers in the security cluster met on Tuesday and made stern pronouncements on clamping down on the issue of illegal migration.

“With regards to hiring of undocumented foreign nationals, we will clamp down on private business owners who do not abide by the labour and immigration laws. Home Affairs, Police Service and department of labour will intensify inspections,” the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster said.

HomeAffairsSA@HomeAffairsSA

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Bullet points of major incidents around the issue:

  • South Africa to tighten its immigration
  • Nigeria government cautions SA to get grip on security
  • MTN, Shoprite others bemoan impact of closing shops in Nigeria
  • Nigeria government debunks news of bomb attack at SA embassy
  • Nigeria to repatriate over 600 citizens, MPs vow to push for compensation
  • South Africa police operation to verify foreigners in Pretoria
  • Ghana confirms injury of three citizens, arrest of five others
  • Nigeria FM slams South African counterpart
  • Madagascar calls off friendly with South Africa
  • Air Tanzania suspends flights to South Africa
  • Anti-South Africa protests in DRC
  • Nigerian Airline to airlift citizens back home for free
  • South Africa says arrests at 289, death toll stands at 5
  • Kenya says two of its citizens were killed
  • South Africa must do more to stop xenophobia – Amnesty International
  • Nigeria issues South Africa Travel Advisory
  • Local airline, Air Peace, offers free evacuation of Nigerians
  • Nigeria pulls out of World Economic Forum on Africa, ongoing in Cape Town
  • Reprisal attacks were recorded in Lagos and Ibadan
  • Abuja issued statement calling for calm and restraint
  • Nigeria police beefs up security at SA-owned businesses
  • Regional body, Southern Africa Development Community, SADC; voices condemnation
  • Botswana issues South Africa travel advisory
  • MTN shuts all shops across Nigeria
  • Zambia shuts three South African malls
  • Zambia football body cancels match with SA

Nigeria looking to repatriate about 600

Over 600 Nigerians will be voluntarily returning home according from South Africa according to head of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri.

The first news of repatriation was from a local airline, Air Peace which made the offer last week. Its plans were impacted by lack of documentation of beneficiaries. The embassy stepped in to provide necessary papers.

The first batch are expected to leave on two flights on Wednesday, Nigeria’s Consul General in Johannesburg, Godwin Adama, told the BBC.

Only those who were under distress as a result of the attacks would leave the country, he added. The government via president Buhari also issued a statement for voluntary repatriation of all Nigerians living in South Africa.

Ms Dabiri has also called for the South African government to pay compensation to victims of the xenophobic violence that has so far claimed a dozen lives. Lawmakers in Nigeria’s lower chamber have also said they will push for compensation.

September 8, 2019: Fresh violence erupts in Johannesburg

At least two people have died and dozens arrested following fresh xenophobic attacks in South Africa’s Johannesburg city on Sunday.

Local Eyewitness News reported that a group of men had raided the city’s central business district on Sunday morning, demanding that foreigners leave the area.

The city’s police chief David Tembe confirmed that two people had died from gun shot wounds and stabbing, adding that cars, buildings and businesses had been vandalised.

“I think this is pure criminality because some of the shops that were burned did not belong to the foreigners, it belonged to South Africans,’‘ Tembe said.

September 7, 2019: Nigeria debunks explosion at SA embassy in Abuja

The Nigerian government on Saturday dispelled reports that there had been an explosion at the Abuja premises of the South African embassy.

Information Minister Lai Mohammed told the media that the reports that had been making the rounds were untrue and that no such incident had taken place.

A statement by his media aide said the “explosion” was fake news orchestrated by the desperate opposition to cause panic and chaos among the populace.

The Police also called the report a classic fake news. “Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force has provided adequate security in and around all South African Missions and related business interests,” their statement read in part.

South African businesses were targeted earlier this week in reprisal attacks by some Nigerians after a surge in xenophobic violence saw other Africans attacked in Johannesburg and other areas.

The South African embassy closed its doors in the wake of the security threats that officials were receiving. Some businesses like MTN and Shoprite closed their shops for fear of attacks.

The Nigerian government also issued a travel advisory for South Africa, pulled out of the World Economic Forum on Africa – which took place in Caper Town and recalled its envoy.

A private airline, Air Peace, has since offered to evacuate citizens who are willing to voluntarily return but the move has been hampered as a result of the lack of proper documentation of some of the applicants.

Nigeria Police Force@PoliceNG

The above video is another classical example of a disingenuous piece of Fake News. There was no explosion in the South African High Commission or any other part of Nigeria today. The public are therefore advised to disregard the information in its entirety.

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September 6, 2019: Nigeria MPs talk tough on SA xenophobia

Lawmakers of Nigeria’s lower chamber of parliament, the House of Peoples Representatives, on Thursday gave a stern statement on xenophobic violence in South Africa.

Led by leader Femi Gbajabiamila, the MPs stressed the importance of protecting all citizens wherever they find themselves as much as Nigeria welcomes and respects the rights of others within its jurisdiction.

Among the major issues that he raised were as follows:

  • Demand that the federal government continues efforts to secure the interest of citizens
  • That the South African government fully probes the recent xenophobic incidents
  • That Nigerians must desist from all acts of reprisals as it affects fellow citizens most
  • Efforts to seek justice for persons affected and push for reparations
  • That federal government works towards tackling the country’s internal security issues

September 6, 2019: SA conducting op on foreigners

Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Ministry says five nationals have been arrested in Pretoria following an operation by the South African security agencies.

Three Ghanaians were also injured in the xenophobic attacks of earlier this week, a statement of September 6 read.

“Our Mission in Pretoria has reported that three [3] Ghanaians have been injured in the xenophobic unrest. The Mission is ensuring that the injured Ghanaians receive the necessary medical attention.”

“It is precisely this kind of outrageous stigmatization of a people from senior government officials that fuel xenophobia and embolden criminals,” this is a Twitter reaction by Nigeria’s Foreign Minister to a pronouncement by his South African counterpart.

Expired documents hampers free evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa

Naledi Pendor had been quoted as saying on Thursday that drug peddlers and human traffickers needed to be kept out of the country.

Pandor told local eNCA: “(The Nigerian government must) Help us address the belief and the reality that our people have that there are many persons from Nigeria, who are dealing in drugs in our country, who are harming our young people by making drugs easily available to them.

“The belief that Nigerian nationals are involved in human trafficking and other abusive practices. This kind of assistance in ensuring that such people don’t come to our country would be of great assistance to our nation.”

Madagascar latest to boycott Bafana Bafana

Meanwhile, the national football team, Bafana Bafana, have been released from camp after the football association failed to secure a friendly opponent.

Zambia withdrew from a planned fixture before Madagascar went down the same route. In both instances, they cited the xenophobic attacks as reason for their pullout.

“The South African Football Association (SAFA) has taken a decision to release the players who had been in camp whole week to go back to their clubs after the withdrawal of Madagascar team from the friendly match against Bafana Bafana which was scheduled for Orlando Stadium on Saturday, 7 September 2019.

“The decision to release the players was taken after the meeting with the players and technical staff.

“SAFA has consistently and strongly condemned the xenophobic attacks and the criminal looting of foreign and South African businesses and wanton attacks on foreign nationals and South African citizens.

“We reiterate our call that these criminals must be arrested and dealt with harshly. We have noticed that 289 arrests have already been made and we urge the authorities to accelerate further arrests and prosecutions,” the SAFA statement read in part.

September 5, 2019: SA consulate, businesses attacked in DRC, Air Tanzania suspends flights

Nigeria and Zambia, now its in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC; that South Africa is under attack.

Photos on social media showed that protesters had violently displayed at the premises of the South African embassy in Lubumbashi, capital of the Katanga Province. Police were deployed to disperse the protests.

Elsewhere, businesses belonging to South African brands have also been attacked and looted, reports have suggested. The local advocacy group, Lucha, had called for peaceful anti-xenophobia protests.

Over in the SADC region, Tanzania’s national carrier, Air Tanzania; announced that it had suspended flights to South Africa over the violent incidents of the last few days.

Works Transport and Communication Minister, Isack Kamwelwe, on Thursday said all flights scheduled for South Africa effective Friday had been cancelled till the South African authorities get a grip on safety of foreigners in the country.

“We have temporarily suspended flights until when calm is restored because we wouldn’t want to fly passengers to a destination with chaos,” said Mr Kamwelwe.

September 5, 2019: Airlifting of Nigerians from South Africa

A local carrier in Nigeria, Air Peace, on Wednesday offered to evacuate Nigerians willing to leave South Africa back home, the Nigeria Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform the general public that following the recent unfortunate xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals, including Nigerians in South Africa, the Proprietor of Air Peace Airlines Chief Allen Onyema, has volunteered to send an aircraft from Friday, 6th September 2019 to evacuate Nigerians who wish to return to Nigeria free of charge.

“The general public is hereby advised to inform their relatives in South Africa to take advantage of this laudable gesture. Interested Nigerians are therefore advised to liaise with the High Commission of Nigeria in Pretoria and the Consulate General of Nigeria in Johannesburg for further necessary arrangement.

Amnesty Int. Nigeria@AmnestyNigeria

The xenophobic attacks in South Africa have been building up since 2008. Nothing was done by authorities to tame this tide of hatred. #XenophobiaInSouthAfrica #XenophobicAttack

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September 4, 2019: Zambians protest, MTN shuts offices

Students from the University of Zambia protested in the capital, Lusaka, against attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa.

Reports indicate that hundreds gathered on campus and marched to a number of popular shopping malls and targeting South African-owned businesses. Three malls in Lusaka have been shut in the process.

The protests were largely peaceful despite scattered looting incidents. A section of the protesters marched to the South African High Commission and others went to President Edgar Lungu’s residence.

The president has since issued a statement slamming what he called “lawlessness” of the students.

READ MORE: Police on decline in public violence and looting in Johannesburg and Tshwane

Mwebantu@Mwebantu

UNZA DEMO IMAGES:

Gabriel Mulenga Photography #Zambia

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South African grocer Shoprite Holdings said on Wednesday several stores in its home market, Nigeria and Zambia were closed and extensive damage had been done to several supermarkets over the past 24 hours.

The shops were attacked after days of riots in South Africa chiefly targeting foreign-owned, including Nigerian, businesses.

September 4, 2019: Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy ditch SA; victims lament experiences

Players in Nigeria’s entertainment industry have severally been reacting to the violence in South Africa with two of Nigeria’s biggest acts announcing that they have ditched trips to South Africa.

The first was musician Burna Boy, who on Tuesday tweeted that he would not be visiting South Africa ever again. In a tweet storm slamming the violence he also tasked the government to immediately find a solution to the crisis.

“I have not set foot in SA since 2017. And I will NOT EVER go to South Africa again for any reason until the SOUTH AFRICAN government wakes the fuck up and really performs A miracle because I don’t know how they can even possibly fix this,” he said.

For her part, Tiwa Savage, posted on Twitter that she had suspended an upcoming engagement in Johannesburg in the light of recent developments.

“I refuse to watch the barbaric butchering of my people in SA. This is SICK. For this reason I will NOT be performing at the upcoming DSTV delicious Festival in Johannesburg on the 21st of September. My prayers are with all the victims and families affected by this,” she said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, a number of African leaders who were expected in Cape Town for the World Economic Forum on Africa pulled out barely hours to the opening of the proceedings.

Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Peter Mutharika of Malawi were listed among those that opted out. The event has since kicked off.

Botswana Government@BWGovernment

TRAVEL ADVISORY – SOUTH AFRICA@MIACBW wishes to advise all Batswana traveling to South Africa to exercise extreme caution in light of recent developments resulting in violent unrests in some parts of the Republic of South Africa.

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September 4, 2019: Zambia president’s statement [Facebook]

I wish to condemn the ongoing attacks in South Africa in all its forms and manifestations.

Attacks of this nature targeted at foreign nationals call for urgent concerted measures by the South African Government and the regional bodies .

I call on all Zambians both locally and abroad to remain calm and disengage from acts of violence as they voice out their grievance.

I wish to assure you all that together, we are working on solutions to combat these acts of violence and bring back the spirit of Ubuntu.

Let us continue praying for peace and unity across the region.

September 3, 2019: Ramaphosa Buhari reaction, Lagos reprisals

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has reacted to xenophobic violence in parts of the country condemning the incidents as unacceptable and without any justification whatsoever.

In a video posted on his personal Twitter handle, Ramaphosa stressed the importance of restoring peace and security as quickly as practicable.

“I condemn the violence that has been spreading around a number of our provinces in the strongest terms,” he said.

He added that he was convening all ministers in the security cluster today to make sure that a very close eye was kept on what he described as “acts of wanton violence” and find ways of stopping them.

Ramaphosa said it was not right for locals with grievances to attack other nationals. He tasked security forces for their efforts at restoring order in Kwa Zulu Natal and Guateng provinces.

He also cited the fact that with an increasingly integrated Africa, South African workers also risked being attacked in other countries if others are to met out the same treatment South Africans are exhibiting today.

Cyril Ramaphosa @CyrilRamaphosa · Sep 3, 2019

I condemn the violence that has been spreading around a number of our provinces in the strongest terms. I’m convening the ministers in the security cluster today to make sure that we keep a close eye on these acts of wanton violence and find ways of stopping them.

Cyril Ramaphosa @CyrilRamaphosa

The people of our country want to live in harmony; whatever concerns or grievances we may have, we need to handle them in a democratic way. There can be no justification for any South African to attack people from other countries.2,1581:14 PM – Sep 3, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy2,075 people are talking about this

Reports indicate that looting and clashes with security forces continued today in some parts of the country. Police have also confirmed more arrests in addition to the over forty recorded on Monday.

Nigeria, Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe governments and the Somali community in South Africa have reacted to the incidents.

The African Union Commission through Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat also condemned the violence and said it backed South African measures to restore law and order.

03 September 2019, Addis Abeba: AU statement on xenophobia in South Africa

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat condemns in the strongest terms, the incidents of violence against nationals of fellow African countries in South Africa, including the looting and destruction of their property. The Chairperson is encouraged by arrests already made by the South African authorities.

He calls for further immediate steps to protect the lives of people and their property, ensure that all perpetrators are brought to account for their acts, and that justice be done to those who suffered economic and other losses.

The Chairperson reiterates the African Union’s Commission continued commitment to support the South African government in addressing the root causes that led to these despicable acts, in order to promote peace and stability, within the framework of the African Union’s longstanding principles of continental solidarity.