The Nigeria Consulate General in Johannesburg says the Oct. 22 attack on businesses owned by Nigerians in Witbank in the Mpumalanga district of South Africa was a criminal act and not xenophobic.
Mr. Godwin Adama the Nigerian Consul General in Johannesburg, clarified in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Godwin Adama said that the attack, which occurred at about 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22 was masterminded by taxi drivers under the guise of fighting crime. He added that with the cooperation of the police the matter was resolved in less than an hour.
“We held a meeting with the police authorities and they led us to the place where the attack occurred. Although it happened in a different locality (from the previous one), we agreed to meet often to prevent reoccurrence.
“The police promised to invite the taxi drivers association and Nigerian Citizens Association in South Africa (NICASA) to a meeting to discuss and resolve issues amicably. There is no problem at the moment and we are monitoring the situation keenly and we have been able to reach a reasonable stage of agreement and help out.
“The government is doing everything here to fight crime. The locals take laws into their hands thinking that the police were not doing enough, which is what mostly leads to attack. People feel there is drug or human trafficking and security operatives are not meeting expectations, and so they take laws into their hands to fight crime, but it does not work that way.”
Godwin Adama commended the security agencies for cooperating with the Nigerian mission “in tackling issues that affect foreign nationals, particularly Nigerians living in that country”. He said efforts would be made to preempt and stop any form of attack in the future, rather than wait for it to happen.
He said that modalities had been put in place to ensure the effective implementation of agreements reached by Nigeria and South Africa to prevent all forms of conflict between citizens of the two countries.
“There was nothing like xenophobia; this attack was crime-related and it is just that some criminals took advantage of the opportunity to carry out the crime.
“We have draft rules and agreements in place; it is a people-to-people relationship we want to concentrate on. If it is government-to-government we do not have much problem at all.
“It is not a one-day matter to resolve, but such modality requires constant discussion platforms to enable people to be able to interact. To be able to arrest criminals, it is better to take issues related to the crime to the police station, rather than take laws into your hands,” he added.