The Nigeria Union in  South Africa  says the recent comments    by that country`s Deputy Police Minister   insinuating  an influx of   foreigners in Johannesburg  are  unfortunate.

The Minister, Bongani Mkongi, was  quoted to have said:  “How can a city in South Africa be 80 per cent foreign national? That is dangerous. South Africans have surrendered their own city to the foreigners.”

He made the comments  while reacting to  the problem of hijacked buildings in Johannesburg.

But Mr Ikechukwu Anyene, the President of the union, told the Nigerian Pilot on telephone from Pretoria, South Africa,  on Monday that such comments   could cause another round of xenophobic attacks.

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He said though the minister did not specify  the particular foreign nationals, Nigerians had  suffered from previous attacks in that country.

“ It is unfortunate that a minister  and indeed a   top government official  could  make such utterances, especially in this period of heightened tension, a time  we have been having challenges caused by xenophobic attack.

“ These are the kind of utterances that goad people to  burn  properties.

“ We, however,  believe that this is not the official position of the South African government. We believe that it is his personal opinion,” he said.

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Anyene urged the Federal Government to engage its South African counterpart to call its top officials to order and refrain from making such  comments.

He also  said that the Early Warning Unit (EWU) agreed on by the governments  of the two countries had not taken off.

Anyene  said an agreement to set up the unit was reached during the visit of Nigeria`s  Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, to South Africa in February.

In its reaction, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)  condemned the comments   made by  Mkongi.

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“As a figure of authority in the Department of Police – and by extension across society – the Deputy Minister is expected to exercise a great deal of circumspection in his public utterances,” the commission said in a statement in Pretoria,’’ it said.

The commission said the Department of Police was expected to play a leading role in combating and preventing xenophobia as well as the effective detection thereof‚ and in crime prevention and law enforcement.

“Therefore‚ the deputy minister was expected not to utter inflammatory statements,” the commission added.


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