POLITICS

Nigeria Sends High Level Delegation to South Africa to Tackle Government About Xenophobia

Monday's meeting is expected to discuss the tensions between Nigeria and South Africa over the attacks.

12/03/2017 15:32 SAST | Updated 12/03/2017 16:04 SAST
Gallo Images/ Daily Sun / Jabu Kumalo
A protest aginst xenophobia in Johannesburg in December 2016.

Nigerian foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama and interior minister Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau are in South Africa ahead of a meeting with their South African counterparts in Pretoria on Monday.

The meeting is expected to address the strained relationship between South Africa and Nigeria following a recent spate of attacks against foreigners in especially Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Some of these attacks have been labelled by the South African government as either criminal or a backlash against criminal elements in communities, some of whom happened to be Nigerian nationals.

Nigeria has claimed a number of nationals had been killed in attacks in South Africa, and a number of Nigerian organisations have asked for South African business interests in that country, like MTN, to shut down.

Nigerian officials said their ministers would be coming here to discuss the xenophobic attacks, but their South African counterparts played it down.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation in a press release on Sunday afternoon said the meeting with the Nigerian ministers "forms part of regular diplomatic engagements between South Africa and Nigeria and is geared towards strengthening and deepening bilateral relations between the two countries".

A march by Pretoria residents protesting against immigrants in late February turned chaotic and violent.

Days later, President Jacob Zuma said the Pretoria march wasn't xenophobic but was provoked by anger over crime.

Dozens of people were arrested after the violent clashes and Gauteng Premier David Makhura called for opposition to xenophobia.

"We call on all community leaders and political parties to stand up and speak out against these senseless acts of violence against foreign nationals. We need to hear every voice against xenophobia. We can't afford the repeat of events of the past years where many foreign nationals were killed and displaced. Stand up and be counted," said Makhura at the time.

This was what Huffington Post South Africa recorded of that march.