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South Africa may compensate Nigerians affected in xenophobic attacks

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Nigerians who lost property in recent xenophobic attacks might be compensated after South Africa and Nigeria agreed to set up a committee on compensation.

"Both countries agreed to set up a committee on compensation, wide range of bilateral issues were reviewed, assurances gotten, early warning mechanism to be established," a presidential spokesman Ayo Akanji said on Friday.

South Africa had rejected demands from Nigeria for compensation after recent anti-foreigners attack. South African officials have indicated that the country will not agree to any demands for official compensation for damage suffered by Nigerian nationals.

They said these Nigerians should seek restitution from their insurance companies — just as South African companies whose properties were damaged in the retaliatory attacks in Nigeria should seek compensation from their insurance companies and not the Nigerian government.

They also said Pretoria had rejected similar demands after eruptions of xenophobic violence in 2008 and 2015.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari met his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa, weeks after xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg triggered tensions between Africa's leading economies.

Nigerians were among those targeted during the wave of violence which resulted in the death of 12 people. Over 600 Nigerians were repatriated following the attacks.

On Thursday, Buhari said the attacks were "unacceptable" and called for preventive measures.

“As the government of South Africa, we have expressed our deep regret at the attacks directed at foreign nationals and our condemnation of all forms of intolerance and acts of violence,” Ramaphosa told journalists.

Ramaphosa said the two countries had sealed 32 bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding covering trade and industry, science and technology, defence, agriculture and energy.

On the early warning mechanism, Ramaphosa said an "early warning mechanisms will be set up so that when we see there is restiveness in both of our people ... we will be able to inform one another."

"We are equally committed to upholding the rule of law and ensuring that all those involved in criminal activities, regardless of their nationality, are prosecuted," he added.

Nigeria accounts for 64 percent of South Africa’s total trade with the West African Region and is one of its largest trading partners on the continent.


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