Xenophobia is very big in South Africa and Nigerians are often the targets of these attacks.
The attack happened on Saturday, February 18, 2017, when a church owned by a Nigerian pastor identified as Pastor Samson in Pretoria West was burnt down with the man of God beaten and injured.
This xenophobic attack is the latest in South Africans attacking and murdering Nigerians. In 2016, there were many cases of Nigerians being attacked by South Africans.
This fresh wave of xenophobic accounts doesn't look like it is subsiding soon. Some South Africans have gone ahead to create a Facebook group called 'Get Nigerian Drug Dealers out of SA' and in just a few days, the group has gathered over 5,000 members and they all want one thing: to force Nigerians out of their country by all means.
Nigeria and South Africa have been locked in a power tussle ever since apartheid and Nelson Mandela became President but this has nothing to do with which country has more bragging rights in the continent.
South Africa has never been fond of immigrants even during the apartheid era. During this period Mozambicans who fled their country due to the instability faced discrimination when they moved to South Africa.
Ironically, after apartheid, xenophobic attacks have increased greatly and with a lot of Nigerians moving to the country in the 90s and 00s, we have become targets for xenophobic attacks.
Why do South Africans hate Nigerians though? Well, according to South Africans, Nigerians do a lot of crime. Nigerians are perceived to be criminals and fraudsters who are largely responsible for crime in the country.
"I dnt care what u say. I’ve lived amongst Nigerians ..my best friend is married to a Nigerian ..they r heartless …they dnt care how they get the money and they think they are untouchable …even the zims and Congolese I know hate Nigerians ..deny it all u want but u and I know that the good Nigerians are only a hand full…if these attacks were directed only at the Nigerians I ddnt even feel an ounce of hurt cos I’ve witnessed all around the pain and chaos they’ve caused" said a South African woman Wendy Ledwaba in 2015 during the xenophobic attacks.
I spoke to a Nigerian who lives in Cape Town to confirm this perception. Under anonymity, he disclosed that there are many Nigerians who are involved in crime.
"Yes, in Johannesburg there are Nigerians who do drugs. Quite a lot of them actually" he disclosed. He also said that there are many Nigerians involved in Internet fraud in the country as well.
Despite the connection with crime, Nigerians in Cape Town believe that the hatred some South Africans have for them is because we are taking over.
Nigerians are known to be loud, flashy, fast thinkers who are ready to put that work in no matter where they are. Nigerians have a dominating spirit and while some countries might be able to accommodate our sometimes overbearing nature, South Africans can't.
Nigerians have been in Ghana for decades and although Ghanaians complain that Naija boyz are taking over in their country they have never resorted to attacks and intimidation.
The rivalry between Nigerians and South Africans might add a bit of edge to the attacks but Nigerians suffer persecution because South Africans don't do well with foreigners.