South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bobby Monroe, on Thursday, ordered the closure of his country’s commission offices and consulate for fear of reprisal attack by Nigerian youths.
Concise News had reported that South Africans had on Sunday begun fresh attacks, looting and burning of businesses and properties belonging to foreigners and in the process killed three people, while another is still receiving treatment for smoke inhalation.
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Ambassador Monroe said that he had directed the Mission to also suspend all consular activities until the situation improved.
Speaking to the Punch, he said that the reported attacks on South Africans in parts of the country informed the decision to close down the Mission.
Moroe said, “I directed that the Mission should be closed until the situation improves. We heard that South Africans were being pulled out of vehicles and attacked. We feel unsafe and that is why I directed that the mission should close down until further notice.”
Concise News had reported that Monroe, on Tuesday, said that reports of attacks in his country are not xenophobic and targetted at Nigerians.
This online news platform also reported that Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, has summoned Moroe over the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.
However, responding to summon by Nigeria at a media briefing with Onyeama, Monroe described the attacks as ‘sporadic acts of violence’ adding that businesses belonging to other South Africans were also affected in the violence.
It was learned that the attacks on Nigerians are part of wider xenophobic attacks on foreigners in the rainbow nation.
The attack which was second of it within a week began on Sunday morning in Jeppestown area of Johannesburg when a building was set on fire by angry mobs.
Later on Sunday evening, some group of violent locals suspected to be Zulu hostel dwellers attacked Jules street in Malvern, Johannesburg, looting and burning shops.
Similar violence had occurred on August 28 in Pretoria Business District as indigenes angered by the death of a taxi operator apparently thought to be killed by a Nigerian went on rampage.
The said driver was, however, allegedly killed by a Tanzanian which sparked the violence that resorted to looting of shops owned by Nigerians and some other foreigners in that country.
This online news medium reports that the government of South Africa had threatened a crackdown but has so far been unable to prevent acts of violence.
This latest development indicates xenophobia will be top of the agenda when both leaders meet.