The recent killing of two Nigerians in Johannesburg has again raised concerns over the continued xenophobic attacks by some renegade South African youths against Nigerians and other nationals residing in the rainbow country.
As at the last count, no fewer than 200 innocent citizens have been murdered in cold blood by these criminally-minded persons since the xenophobic attacks commenced.
It is worrisome that the death toll of Nigerians killed in South Africa has continued to rise with the latest victims who were stabbed to death during attacks in Johannesburg and Cape Town on April 5 and 6, 2019, respectively.
The xenophobic attacks appear to be encouraged by the South African state as the King of Kwa Zulu Natal, Goodwill Zwelithini was reported to have said, “We are requesting those who come from outside to please go back to their countries. The fact that there were countries that played a role in the country’s struggle for liberation should not be used as an excuse to create a situation where foreigners are allowed to inconvenience the locals.”
From the time the King made these infamous utterances to date, scores of innocent citizens have been killed. The black South Africans now see their new antagonists in the hardworking nationals of other African countries, who were honestly earning a living through different enterprises most times without support from the government.
We recall the brutal murder of 62 people in a wave of xenophobic attacks that occurred in 2008 where some Nigerians were among the victims.Why should Nigerians residing in South Africa be hated by some South Africans for working so hard and having the ability to earn a decent living?
All over the world, it is a settled view that protection of lives and properties remained the major responsibility of government. For apparently failing to end this attacks, the South African government has failed in discharging this onerous task.
It is unfortunate that rather than appreciate Nigeria’s laudable role in its years of suffering, these renegade South African youths are acting in a manner that suggests that they do not value the contributions made by others to the enthronement of democratic rule in their country.
Beyond being a sad commentary on the relationship that exists between Nigeria and South Africa, it is tragic that the Nigerian government is yet to take an official position to defend the interests of her nationals in that country.
While South African businesses flourish in Nigeria, there are deliberate policies to stifle businesses owned by other African nationals in South Africa. One ready reason proffered by these attackers is that foreigners have taken over their jobs.
That this is happening in an African nation that subscribes to the ideals, vision and mission of a united Africa as encapsulated in the charter of African Union (AU) leaves much to be desired.
More disturbing is the fact that the perpetrators have not been brought to book. There is no point reasserting the fact that the arrest and prosecution of the culprits by the South African Police would put to a stop the daily killings of Nigerians.
Indeed, the greatest incentive to crime is the knowledge by criminals that they can get away with their evil deeds.
As should be expected, Nigerians in South Africa are calling on the federal government to protect them. We are tempted to ask why the federal government has not taken a decisive action on this matter.
This seeming unpreparedness to take measures against the menace by the Nigerian government is as worrisome as it is insulting to the sensibilities of Nigerians, especially families that have lost loved ones.
But perhaps the time has come for Nigerians to look inwards by examining those factors that draw its youths away from their fatherland to places where they suffer so much resentment.
We believe that while finding ways to end this madness by South African youths, the Nigerian government must intensify work on the formulation and implementation of policies that will encourage Nigerian youths to stay in Nigeria rather than travel to places where they will be exposed to callous treatments as exemplified by the xenophobic attacks.
Most importantly, the Nigerian government needs to send strong signal to its South African counterpart that the senseless murder of innocent Nigerians who genuinely tenant other countries can no longer be tolerated.
The time to end xenophobia and all other extrajudicial killings of Nigerians anywhere in the world is now and government must act fast!
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