It was another bloody day on Sunday in South Africa’s xenophobic wave.
Protesters took to the streets demanding expulsion of foreigners.
One person died and five others were injured in clashes.
Hostel residents across the commercial hub of Johannesburg took to the streets to demand immediate deportation of foreigners.
It was not immediately clear whether the deceased was a South African or a foreigner. The identities of those injured were also not made public.
The police said they intervened early to prevent a clash of the xenophobic marchers with resistant foreigners.
About 400 Nigerians have indicated their intention to return home, most of them after losing their means of livelihood, Nigeria’s Consul General in Johannesburg Godwin Adama said yesterday.
The Nigerian High Commissioner in South Africa Kabiru Bala told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that documentation of those ready to return home had started.
He said: “We have more than enough for that aircraft. Over 400 Nigerians have already registered; more are still coming.
“We are documenting them. Those without travel documents, we shall provide them with Emergency Travel Certificates. There are other governmental procedures that we must observe. Relevant agencies of government in Nigeria must be informed and must be ready to receive the returnees.
“Hard work is now going on at the High Commission and Consulate in this regard. As soon as all procedures and relevant protocols are observed, the return is assured and guaranteed. A little more patience will be helpful. The response of Nigerians is just amazing.’’
Adama noted that Air Peace had offered to airlift those willing to return home.
According to him, the first batch of Nigerians who are willing to return home will be repatriated on Wednesday.
“We have more than enough for that aircraft. Over 400 Nigerians have already registered; more are still coming,’’ he said.
Bala said the mission was equally responding to the needs of those willing to return, especially those who had issues with their documents.
“We are documenting them. Those without travel documents, we shall provide them with Emergency Travel Certificates.
“There are other governmental procedures that we must observe.
Relevant agencies of government in Nigeria must be informed and must be ready to receive the returnees.
“Hard work is now going on at the High Commission and Consulate in this regard. As soon as all procedures and relevant protocols are observed, the return is assured and guaranteed.
“A little more patience will be helpful. The response of Nigerians is just amazing,’’ Bala said.
President, Nigeria Citizens Association, South Africa (NICASA), Ben Okoli, said all efforts were geared towards evacuation of those who were ready to come back home.
Okoli said the figure of those ready to come was in hundreds as many had lost their means of livelihood and had nothing to fall back on.
“The Consulate is sorting out the issue of documents. Nigerians are being registered and issued with the necessary travel documents to enable them make the trip to Lagos.
“Some lost their passports in their homes and businesses from the fire that gutted it, while others had their documents and properties stolen by the locals,’’ he said.
The association, he said, was still pushing ahead with the demand for compensation as there was sufficient evidence available to them that the attacks were premeditated and orchestrated.
He also noted that normalcy was gradually returning, stressing that there was no longer tension, or violence against any set of people.
“The violence and hostility have ceased. Many Nigerians were, however, affected by the crisis and lots have been highly distressed with nothing to fall back on.
“So, some of those affected have decided to call it quits and go back to Nigeria.
“At present, we are collating the data of Nigerians that are to be evacuated back to Nigeria.
“We have it on good record that the first batch will be leaving on Wednesday.’’
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s effort in sending a special envoy to South Africa.
Okoli said the move was able to boost the morale of the Nigerian community to go about their normal businesses without fear of molestation or attacks.
“We have actually regained some strength knowing that our government is backing and supporting us, especially at this time.
“So we are no longer afraid because we believe that so long we are doing the right thing, the lawful thing, we have nothing to fear.
“We want to thank President Buhari for the steps he has taken. The special envoy did come to us and pushed the case of Nigerians. We are very grateful and thank him for what he has done so far,’’ he said.
Okoli also commended the Management of Air Peace for offering to airlift Nigerians home and urged the airline to endeavour to airlift all Nigerians who were ready to return come home.
South Africa, Nigeria committed to strengthening bilateral ties
As the xenophobic attacks intensified on Sunday, SERAP and other groups urged the African commission to sue South Africa for $10bn so that victims could be compensated.
There was tension in Eastern Johannesburg on Sunday as residents marched along Jules Street, demanding that “foreigners must go back to where they came from.”
The protesters, who were armed, were heading to Jules Park where former IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi was expected to address them. Last week, shops owned by foreign nationals were looted and some set alight in the area.
Xenophobic violence were reported in Gauteng province, to the consternation of some concerned policemen and hapless government officials.
The protesters, who were living in neighbourhood hostels, maintained that foreigners should leave South Africa.
According to observers, the protesters did not give any reason for the protests and their demands. However, it was believed that they enjoyed the tacit support of government, although the attacks have been condemned by government and President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Representatives of the hostel dwellers in Johannesburg urged the government to engage the citizens and find lasting solutions to the clashes with foreign nationals.
The leader of the Hostel Dwellers in Gauteng, Siphiwe Mhlongo, chairman of hostel headmen (izinduna) in Gauteng, said: “We are not happy with how government has tried to resolve the problems that the country is facing. The government must come and speak to the people and explain what it is going to do with the foreign nationals who are here illegally.”
He said the residents were angry at jobs being taken by foreign nationals, unhappy about drugs and RDP houses being owned by foreigners.
Mhlongo added: “Everyone who is in South Africa has that feeling that foreign nationals must go back home. But, we don’t say foreign nationals must be beaten up; we are leaders.”
In its letter to the African Commission, SERAP requested the Chairperson, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Mrs Soyata Maiga, to institute a legal action against South Africa file before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
SERAP asked Maiga and other members of the African Commission to seek an effective remedy and reparation for Nigerian victims to the tune of $10 billion.
Also, ‘N2015G’ Director of Strategy, Africa & North America, Dr Timi Asuelime, said the need to seek redress for the injustice followed South African Minister of Foreign Affairs, Naledi Pandor’s remarks that the victims were not entitled to compensation.
He said: “We as citizens find it expedient to hold the South African Government accountable for these crimes by instituting a class act law suit in South Africa for their repeated negligence and for perpetuating stereotypes that fans the embers of further xenophobic attacks.”
Asuelime condemned the stigmatization of Nigerian victims as criminals, adding that South African Government officials continued to blame foreigners for their inability to alleviate growing poverty among their citizens.
In his view, the attacks will continue unless the perpetrators are apprehended and sanctioned
Asuelime stressed: “There is zero will to prosecute on the part of the government and this alone makes them complicit. To this end, we understand that redress in the court is needful as a means of instituting consequence for South African Governments action or inaction in this grave matter.”
Chiding the protesters, founder of the Abuja Film Festival, Fidelis Duker, said the culture of hate and prejudice has violated human dignity.
He described festival as a platform for the promotion of mutual harmony and respect for the dignity of life.