The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that most violent conflicts and killings of Nigerians in South Africa were more of criminal activities than xenophobic attack.
The ministry’s spokesperson, Tope Elias-Fatile, stated this while briefing journalists on Wednesday in Abuja on a wide range of issues and activities of the ministry.
Mr. Elias-Fatile said the ministry was in constant touch with the Nigerian mission in South Africa to get reports of criminal-related issues involving Nigerians living in that country.
“”From the report I can authoritatively tell you that the killings of Nigerians in South Africa were more of criminal issue,” he said.
Nigerians living in South Africa had suffered series of attacks by mobs in that country, causing loss of lives and destruction of properties.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that no fewer than 116 Nigerians have been sent to their early graves in the country through extra-judicial means in the last two years.
More recently in January, two Nigerians were killed in Rustenburg and Durban in an attack on some Nigerians in South Africa.
On January 20, Nigerian community in South Africa said that a mob destroyed four shops and several houses belonging to their members at Krugersdorp, near Joha.
In the same vein on January 21 two Nigerians including 27-year-old Ebuka Okori, were killed in that country.
Another two Nigerians were viciously killed within 48 hours, barely a month after President Jacob Zuma was honoured by the Imo Government in 2017.
On October 11, 2017, Jelili Omoyele, a 35-year-old cellular phone technician, was allegedly shot dead in Johannesburg while Olamilekan Badmus, a 25-year-old from Ogun, was also killed at Vaal Vreneging, near Johannesburg.
Mr. Fatile maintained that most of the extra judicial killings were more of crime related issues against Nigerians than xenophobic attacks.
He, however, said that the ministry was working with relevant authorities in South Africa to ensure that there is an end to this heinous crime
“There is a plan for a meeting to address the issues holistically. As I am talking to you the Ministry is in touch with South African authority because that is one of the volatile area.
“”Consistently we are in touch with the ambassador and the consular in South Africa and that is why I said that the pockets of killing are not actually xenophobia they are more of crime related issues,” he said
On the situation of Nigerian returnees from Libya, Mr. Fatile said the ministry was working with the National Emergency Management Agency, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, and other relevant government agencies to ensure their welfare.
He said the minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, had also directed a senior official of the ministry to liaise with state governments to evacuate returnees abandoned at the reception camp in Port Harcourt.