The Nigerian government led by outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan was expected to begin evacuating its nationals from South Africa on Monday, as the death toll rises from the serial xenophobic attacks on foreigners in Durban, Johannesburg and other cities. Nigerians in South Africa have already lost more than 21 million Nigerian naira, or over $105,000, since the violence broke out last month, according to local media reports.
The Nigerian consul-general in South Africa, Uche Ajulu-Okeke, said Nigerian nationals living in South Africa have suffered a slew of property damages and losses including burned businesses, looted shops, scorched cars and stolen vehicles. “Nigerians have compiled damage to their property and it is totaling about 1.2 million rand or N21 million, which will be sent to the federal government for further action,” Ajulu-Okeke told the News Agency of Nigeria in a telephone interview Sunday. “I have also visited the site of the attacks in Johannesburg to assess the damage, and it was enormous.”
At least seven people have died in the anti-immigrant attacks in South Africa in the past week alone, Reuters reported. The wave of attacks on Africans from other countries began at the end of March in the coastal city of Durban and has spread to other parts of the country, forcing thousands of migrants to leave their homes. The attacks in South Africa have targeted African migrants whom locals accuse of stealing their jobs and businesses. It’s the deadliest spread of xenophobic violence South Africa has seen since 2008, when at least 67 people were killed.
“The xenophobic attacks in South Africa is a reflection of the crisis of governance in Africa as reflected by the worsening poverty and unemployment rate in the continent,” the Nigeria Labor Congress and the Congress of South African Trade Unions said in a joint statement Monday, according to Vanguard.
Nigerians marched on the South African High Commission (embassy) in Abuja, the capital, on Monday to protest the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa, and to urge the South African government to end to the violence. Demonstrators held signs that read “Foreigners are not responsible for your joblessness, stop the killings now” and “We have showed Africans and South Africans love, why are they attacking us?”
The commission’s political secretary, Sthembiso Shongwe, condemned the attacks and said South Africa is doing everything possible to stop them. “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,” Shongwe told the Premium Times in Abuja on Monday.
While many protesters have called for the immediate evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa, one protester said he was hesitant about such action. “Evacuation may not be 100 percent,” Deji Adeyanju, an organizer of the protest, told the Premium Times. “There are Nigerians married to South Africans and many have kids too. We don’t want a bad precedence to be set.”