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Buhari pledges stronger tie with South Africa despite xenophobic attack

By Timileyin Omilana
16 September 2019   |   4:58 pm
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari Monday pledged a “solidified” relationship with South Africa despite a spate of xenophobic attacks that killed at least 10 persons including two foreigners.

President Buhari received a Special Envoy from President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa at the State House, Abuja. Photo: NigeriaGov

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday pledged a “solidified” relationship with South Africa despite a spate of xenophobic attacks which killed at least 10 persons including two foreigners.

Buhari said the xenophobic attacks were “very unfortunate” recalling that Nigeria had “made great sacrifices for South Africa to become a free state.”

“Our leadership was quite committed to the cause. We made sacrifices, which younger people of today may not know,” Buhari said while receiving in audience Mr Jeff Radebe, South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa special envoy, in Abuja.

The special envoy had come to apologise on behalf of Ramaphosa for the “acts of criminality and violence” that recently occurred, adding that “such do not represent our value system, nor those of the larger number of South Africans.”

The special envoy disclosed that 10 people died during the attacks – two Zimbabweans and eight South Africans. He said there was no Nigerian casualty.

Buhari, however, did not mention the position of the country in demanding compensation for affected Nigerians as highlighted by Nigeria’s Foreign as Minister Geoffrey Onyeama.

Onyeama in an interview with journalists on September 3 said the special envoys sent by Buhari to South Africa will among others demand a compensation payment for Nigerians who have suffered loss anti-foreigners attack.

“It is just those two key issues, the compensation payment and what security mechanism be put in place to make sure that these kinds of attacks do not recur,” the minister said.

There were retaliatory responses from both Nigerians – attacking South African affiliated companies in Nigerians- and the Nigerian government which recalled its South Africa ambassador and also boycotted the World Economic Forum Africa hosted in Cape Town last week.

Several South Africa affiliated businesses in other Africa affected countries were also attacked or looted.

Nigeria has also begun repatriating more than 600 of its citizens from South Africa, courtesy of a private Nigerian airline Air Peace which volunteered to fly people for free back to Lagos.