xenophobia attacks

*Denies instigating the attack

*Nigeria begins evacuation of citizens

*Protesters storm SA High Commission, Abuja

By Olisemeka Obeche

Embattled Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini has appealed for calm after weeks of xenophobic violence against black foreign nationals residing in parts of South Africa threatens to spin out of control.

The country’s most influential monarch, whose speech containg inciting phrase “foreigners must go” was fingered as the brain-behind outbreak of the latest xenophobic mayhems that started in Durban, a coastal city in the heart of Zulu kingdom which has claimed about seven lives so far.

However, in a damage-control speech delivered in front of thousands of his followers who thronged Durban stadium on Monday, King Zwelithini described the racial turmoil as ‘vile’ and called for calm.”We need to make sure no more foreigners are attacked. We must stop these vile acts,” Zwelithini declared.

xenophobia attack1

The embattled king, also denied instigating the attacks, claiming that his comments were taken out of context by the media.”The country has only been shown a portion of my speech, which has been selective. If it were true that I said ‘foreigners must go’ this country would be up in flames”, he defended.

Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa as from Monday following the inability of the South African government to halt the lingering xenophobic attacks that on foreign nationals.The development follows reports credited to the Nigerian Consul-General, Ambassador Uche Ajulu-Okeke, of increasing losses incurred by Nigerian nationals in the xenophobic attacks. According to the diplomat, the loss by Nigerians included looted shops, burnt shops, two burnt mechanic workshops, 11 burnt cars and two stolen cars, among others.

Some aggrieved Nigerians marched to the South African High Commission in Abuja on Monday to register their grievance over the continued xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa. The protesters stormed the SA commission brandishing placards with various inscriptions, such as: “#SayNoToXenophobia”;“We are Africans”;“We have showed Africans and South Africans love, why are they attacking us?”; “Stop the killings, South Africa Act Now!”; “Stop attacking and killing fellow Africans in South Africa”; “Why are they killing fellow Africans and destroying their businesses?”; “Foreigners are not responsible for your joblessness, stop the killings now” etc.

xenophobia protest

“We use the opportunity to call on the South African government to act now. We are more concerned about the South African government stopping the violence,” declares Mr.Deji Adeyanju, one of the organizers of the protest.

Mr. Adeyanju, who commended the Nigerian government for initiating action to rescue Nigerian nationals trapped in the violence, howeverargued that evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa may not be the ultimate solution but outright stoppage of the xenophobic mayhems. “Evacuation may not be 100 per cent. There are Nigerians married to South Africans and many have kids too; we don’t want a bad precedence to be set.

Meanwhile, South African High commission’s political secretary, Sthembiso Shongwe, who addressed the protesters on behalf of the High Commissioner, however, disclosed that his country was working hard to end the attacks. He announced that about 84 people had been arrested since the violence erupted and that efforts are in top gear to bring the situation under control. “These attacks, they are not acceptable because we are brothers and sisters but I can assure you that the government is serious in bringing this under control,” Mr. Shongwe said.

By Olisemeka Obeche


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