Xenophobia: South Africa formally apologises to Nigeria

Timothy Choji, Abuja


President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa has apologized to Nigeria over the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

The apology was tendered on Monday to President Muhammadu Buhari in the State House, Abuja by the special envoy despatched to Abuja by Ramaphosa, over the increasing xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other Africans living in South Africa.

Addressing State House Correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Buhari, the special envoy, Mr Jeff Radebe, who is South Africa’s Minister of Energy, said:

“I’m a special envoy of President Ramaphosa, together with Dr Kulumbata, who is a Special Adviser to President Ramaphosa. We met a short while ago with His Excellency President Buhari, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to convey our President Ramaphosa’s sincerest apologies about the incidents that have recently transpired in South Africa.

 “Those incidents do not represent what we stand for as a constitutional democracy in South Africa and the President has apologised for these incidents and he has also instructed law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned that those involved must be brought to book so that the rule of law must prevail in South Africa.”

 The special envoy also recalled how Nigeria assisted his country during apartheid, leading to the liberation of South Africa from white oppressors.

He said Nigeria and South Africa must continue their major role of ensuring a unified and stable Africa in line with the Sustainable Development Goal

“President Ramaphosa also conveys his fond memories of ensuring that both Nigeria and South Africa must continue to play a critical role in the rebuilding of Africa to attain the agenda 2063, ‘The Africa that we want.’

“We have also recalled with very fond memories, the historical times that existed between Nigeria and South Africa, during the dark days of apartheid, we always knew that the Nigerian people and their government always stood behind our leaders who were fighting against the obnoxious system of apartheid.

 “Even Nigerian families contributed financially to make sure that apartheid is ended and even though that Nigeria is far from Southern Africa but it was recounted a s a frontline State because of the principal stand that all leaders of Nigerian made to end the system of apartheid.

 “We remember amongst others, late President Murtala Mohammed who played a very key role, but of course the founding father of the Nigerian nation late President Nnamdi Azikiwe,” he said.

The South African envoy announced that already over 50 people have been arrested in connection with the attack on Nigerians.

On the need for compensation as requested by the Nigerian government, Mr Radebe said a Bi National Commission for the two countries will into the matter during President Buhari’s visit to South Africa next month.

“There is a Bi-National Commission between Nigeria and South Africa and on the 3rd of October, during President Buhari’s State visit to South Africa,  there will be detailed discussions that are going to be held there and I do understand that this issue of compensation/restitution is part of the agenda, in the draft that Nigerian government has presented to South Africa,” he said.