Federal government will today begin the evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa. The action is in response to the ongoing vicious xenophobic attacks on black foreign nationals, including Nigerians, in that country. Already the Nigerian High Commission in Pretoria had opened an evacuation register for Nigerians intending to return but cannot afford flight tickets.
This is a positive development by the federal government and we commend President Goodluck Jonathan for doing the wishes of Nigerians.
Regrettably, the ongoing xenophobic attacks in South Africa are sad testimony on the continent’s quest for African unity and brotherly love. This is the same South Africa that several African nations including Nigeria spent time and resources (human and material) to assist to gain freedom from the apartheid regime.
Today, hoodlums loot shops belonging to fellow Africans while machete-wielding attackers hack immigrants to death in major cities in South Africa. This has forced terrified foreigners to hide in police stations and stadiums.
South Africa has about 2 million documented and undocumented immigrants, which is about 4% of the total population. Zimbabweans make up the largest group of immigrants. Also, South Africa is a top travel destination for wealthy Africans because of its proximity and developed infrastructure.
What led to the ongoing attack is not clear yet. One report had it that it started after Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini said at a recent gathering that foreigners “should pack their bags and go because they are taking jobs from citizens”. Shortly after his comments, violence against immigrants erupted in the port city of Durban. But his office denied he made the comments, saying journalists misquoted him. On the other hand the United Nations said the attacks started in March after a labor dispute between citizens and foreign workers.
As attacks against foreigners and their businesses rage on, killing several people, other nations in the continent are scrambling to evacuate their citizens from South Africa. But this is not the first time xenophobic violence has exploded in a country that tries to portray itself as a diverse “rainbow” nation.
Prior to 1994, immigrants faced discrimination and even violence inSouth Africa. After democratisation in 1994, contrary to expectations, the incidence of xenophobia increased. Between 2000 and March 2008, at least 67 people died in what were identified as xenophobic attacks. In May 2008, a series of riots left 62 people dead.
A recent study based on a citizen survey across member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) found South Africans expressing the harshest anti-foreigner sentiment, with 21% of South Africans in favour of a complete ban on entry by foreigners and 64% in favour of strict limitations on the numbers allowed. An anti immigrant campaign, known as “Buyelekhaya” (go back home), blamed foreigners for crime, unemployment and sexual attacks.
Last week, the xenophobic attacks spread to Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city. A pathetic incident is the one that took place yesterday Sunday April 19 .After being stalked down a street, taunted and hit with a wrench, Mozambique national Emmanuel Sithole was cornered by his attackers, stabbed in the heart and left to die on a rubbish-strewn Alexandra street
Emmanuel’s tragic end was not only shocking but the story couldn’t even have been scripted by the best Hollywood horror screenplay writers. He died with three armbands which read: “United for Bafana.”. Bafana meaning the South African National Team.
Emmanuel’s story represents other slain foreigners mainly from mainland Africa, Asia and Middle East. South African government despite publicly condemning the attacks have come under sever backlash following utterances by President Jacob Zuma’s son and Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini that seemed to promote xenophobic violence despite a horrid viral image of a South African police smiling at a burning man drenched in gasoline.
Four reasons have been identified as causes of the attacks. These are;relative deprivation, specifically intense competition for jobs, commodities and housing; group processes, including psychological categorisation processes that are nationalistic rather than superordinate; South African exceptionalism, or a feeling of superiority in relation to other Africans; and exclusive citizenship, or a form of nationalism that excludes others.
We condemn in strongest terms, the ongoing mayhem in SA as it is a clear case of pure jealously and laziness. Why loot and attack people that came with nothing, created their own jobs and businesses? We call on the World leaders including the UN, EU, AU and ECOWAS to immediately institute drastic measures against SA.
These are the same people that killed one of their own reggae sensation Lucky Dube thinking he was a foreigner. Same people killed their own Goalkeeper over a phone after visiting his girlfriend in the ghetto. Same people were hired by a British Indian to kill his wife because everyone knows they would kill for chicken change and need no reason to be told to kill.
These same Zulus brutally killed hundreds and tried to sabotage ending Apartheid because Mandela was Xhosa and the chosen one not Buthelizi. Africans should boycott SA companies and products and severe diplomatic relations with country.