South Africa has expressed concern over the call by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) for the expulsion of South Africans and protest at South African owned businesses in Nigeria.
The country made its feelings known in a statement issued by Anna-Maria Jojozi, Counsellor in-charge of Political Affairs at the South African High Commission in Abuja on Sunday.
Ms Jojozi quoted Naledi Pandor (MP), Minister, International Relations and Cooperation, to have expressed the feeling at the South African Development Community (SADC) meeting held in South Africa on Sunday.
She said that the meeting sought to discuss President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa’s official visit to President John Magufuli of Tanzania, for the SADC Summit, from Wednesday to Thursday.
Ms Jojozi said, “I wish to express my department’s concern regarding statements said to emanate from student organisation in Nigeria, calling for expulsion of South Africans and protests at South African owned businesses.
“The protests are said to be in response to alleged killings of Nigerians by South Africans; as you are aware these allegations are devoid of truth, reckless and unwarranted.
“We find these statements most unfortunate as they do not reflect the strong relations that exist between the people and the Government of South Africa and Nigeria.
“The two countries enjoy strong bilateral relations, which were forged over many years during our struggle for liberation in South Africa; also, in this democratic era supported by the people and Government of Nigeria.”
Ms Jojozi said South Africa’s Acting High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bobby Moroe, had held several meetings with the police and other senior government officials in Nigeria.
She said South Africa had established contact from the highest level of the Nigerian Government and received assurances that authorities in Nigeria were taking the calls for protests seriously.
“They have also assured us that South African citizens and their property in Nigeria will be protected.
“South Africa values the strong ties it has established with Nigeria and will continue to enhance these even further,” Jojozi noted.
The counsellor said the statements referred to the unfortunate death of Mrs Elizabeth Ndubuisi-Chukwu, Deputy Director-General of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria, in June.
She said that, the South African Police Service was still investigating the incident.
“We believe no one should abuse this unfortunate tragedy to generate negative sentiments about South Africa and we express our condolences to Mrs Ndubuisi-Chukwu’s family; friends and the people of Nigeria.”
She said the Minister of Police in South Africa, Bheki Cele, had addressed the Diplomatic Corps early in the year and said there was no targeting of any group of Africans in South Africa.
Ms Jojozi said that the law enforcement agencies were making effort to fight crime and arrest all criminals.
“It is worth mentioning that daily, Nigerian nationals travel to South Africa for multiplicity of reasons ranging from business, tourism and academic purposes.
“Similarly, South Africans have chosen Nigeria as preferred destination for investment and other activities of interest.
“Nigeria is home to approximately 120 South African companies, amongst which are MTN, Shoprite, Multichoice, South Africa Airways and Game – to mention but a few.
“All these companies have over the years contributed towards job creation and social responsibility programmes for Nigerian nationals, both young and old.
“We are very pleased that our strong relations were able to place South African business on firm footing in Nigeria, and pave way for investments by Nigerian business in South Africa,” she added.
Ms Jojozi expressed the hope that the High Commission in Nigeria would invite some stakeholders of the student organisations leading the calls for protests against South African businesses in Nigeria to South Africa.
“I will also ask my colleague, the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces of our Parliament to invite his counterpart, the Senate President of Nigeria and delegation to visit South Africa.
“To see that many Nigerians live in peace and harmony among South Africans, we would also ensure that delegation of members of the executive visit Nigeria to further strengthen our relations.
“I hope their visit will help them to develop a different view from that which they have about South Africa,” she said.