There is no doubt that the shameful xenophobic attacks which has become the trademark of post-apartheid South Africa is in truth and in fact the responsibility of the South Africans authorities to deal with. Xenophobia, simply put, is the dislike of foreigners. If this be the case, then stopping xenophobia in itself could take a longer time because it is a thing of the mind therefore requires social engagement and reorientation. However, stopping the active violence against foreigners by South African lay-about is the duty of the police via direction from government. So far the South African authorities have failed or refused to act.
There are reports of police standing aloof, watching these attacks without any effort to disrupt or arrest the situation. In fact the latest attacks this week were pre-planned, venues known yet the attacks still occurred. Or how do you excuse successful attacks that happen in daylight? How do you fail to blame South African President, Jacob Zuma and his incompetent government over planned successful attacks? His government appears to be complicit in these hate mongering and therefore must be told in clear terms by the Nigerian authorities that this obvious discrimination and hatred for Nigerians can no longer be tolerated.
Even if as alleged by the indigenous attackers that their anger is about Nigerian drug dealers and pimps, surely the police and other law enforcement were employed for such crimes. The people cannot become the police. You cannot encourage mobs and crowds to descend on your guests while you look away or justify same where there is law enforcement whose duty it is to intervene. South Africa is a country of laws, thus no gangs under whatever pretext should be allowed to precipitate mayhem on innocent foreigners.
In this week’s violence which took place overnight, about 100 people ransacked shops in Johannesburg, police said, in the latest burst of xenophobic attacks and looting incidents in South African cities.
Doors and windows were smashed, and food and other items were thrown on the floor in stores believed to belong to immigrants in Jeppestown, an area in the central business district, reports authenticate. Because of the outcry, the police managed to arrest one person.
Thankfully, Nigerians from all walks of life have put pressure on the government to be firm with South Africa. The National Assembly this week resolved to send a delegation to that country to see things as they are. Also, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has expressed concern over the attacks calling on the Federal Government to immediately evacuate Nigerians to prevent further killings. The labour union has said from all indications, it appears there is a grand conspiracy to waste lives and take over the property of innocent and harmless fellow Africans. The Secretary General, TUC, Musa-Lawal Ozigi, said: “First and foremost their anger is misplaced and probably borne out of the inferiority complex suffered from years of oppression and apartheid.
“As a credible organisation, we condemn crimes in all its forms and support punishment for those found culpable. ”But in this case, no one has mentioned any case of crime; it is rather a case of a country whose freedom we staked our lives, financed and spent other resources to fight for and today we get xenophobia as returns,” he said.
He added “We are calling on the Federal Government to put modalities in place to evacuate Nigerians in South Africa and recall the High Commissioner immediately to save the situation as further killing may lead to a major crisis. They own several multi-billion dollar investments on our soils yet, we co-exist despite all odds. This killing and dehumanisation of Nigerians must stop. “It is important at this juncture that we let the African Union (AU) and United Nations Organisation (UNO) caution South Africans and let them know that no individuals or country has a monopoly of violence,” he stated.
Although there were no recorded deaths this time, however many Nigerians have had their means of livelihood obliterated. Last year, when there was a similar attack, nine persons were confirmed dead. Relationship with South Africa has been dogged by this sort of incidents. Although the two countries are supposed to be very cozy, it hasn’t just been all that. However, Nigeria must bite a bit to get Mandela’s country to sit up. Sanctions or threat of, are in order. In the end it is the duty of every host country to protect the lives of every foreigner, whether they like it or not. When any foreigner falls short of the law, the law must take its course, not the mobs.