Nigerian students tell South Africans to leave

May 31st, 2008 - 12:18 am ICT by admin  

By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, May 30 (IANS) All South Africans must get out of Nigeria, students there have demanded, charging South Africans with “genocide” on Nigerians, the Afrikaans daily Beeld reported here. This came in the wake of the xenophobic violence in which South Africans attacked migrants from other African countries, leaving 56 dead and thousands homeless or returning to their home countries, in a humanitarian crisis that is now being attended to by authorities.

The two-week long violence was sparked by claims that the foreigners were taking up jobs and housing intended for locals.

The Nigerian students have charged South Africans of “genocide” on Nigerians, and have demanded that all South African businesses, the South African High Commission and all others from that country leave immediately.

The students also called for the South African soccer squad, nicknamed Bafana Bafana, and which arrived in Nigeria on Friday, to return home. Bafana Bafana are scheduled to play in a crucial game against Nigeria as the nations on the continent vie for a place in the FIFA World Cup in 2010.

Ironically, the World Cup is to be hosted for the first time on the African continent by South Africa. The Nigerian demands include that the World Cup also be taken away from South Africa.

Beeld reported that all these demands were contained in a pamphlet distributed in the Nigerian capital of Abuja and sent to the South African High Commission there.

Security at the mission there and offices in Lagos was tightened ahead of expected marches there as an official who asked not to be named told Beeld “our security is no longer guaranteed”.

Diplomats blamed the media for fanning emotions already running high by reporting that dozens of Nigerians were being killed by South Africans, even though officials confirmed that there had been no Nigerian casualty in the violence.

The incident is a severe embarrassment for the Nigerian government, as President Umaru Yar’Adua is due to start a South African visit on Tuesday.

Both sides moved fast to ease tensions after reports that the Nigerian Federal Government said on Tuesday that South Africa should pay compensation to Nigerians who lost their homes and businesses in the violence.

South African Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said: “The government wishes to place it on record that no such formal request has been officially made by the Nigerian authorities. Furthermore, we would like to draw attention to the fact that both South Africa and the Federal Republic of Nigeria enjoy fraternal diplomatic relations which enables discussion of issues of mutual interest and concern between the two countries through existing bilateral mechanisms.”

The threats to South Africans in Nigeria come after many South African workers and tourists in neighbouring Mozambique fled back home in the wake of similar threats of retaliation by locals there, although nothing resulted from this.

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