President Muhammadu Buhari has told President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa that his government has to take visible steps to end violence against citizens of brotherly African nations.
In fresh attacks targeting Nigerians and foreign nationals in the suburbs of Johannesburg and Pretoria, shops were looted, burnt and 12 persons have so far been confirmed dead.
Latest xenophobic attacks in South Africa commenced in August, according to sundry reports.
The xenophobic attacks have shown little signs of abating, with renewed violence gripping Gauteng province, Johannesburg and Pretoria on Sunday, September 8.
Protesters armed with sticks and rocks have been chanting the slogan: "Foreigners must go" while encircling South Africa's largest city of Johannesburg, for a fortnight now.
What Buhari said through his Envoy
On September 2, 2019, Nigeria's President Buhari sent Special Envoy Amb. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (DGNIA) to South Africa, to convey a special message to his counterpart, President Ramaphosa.
Special Envoy Abubakar was in Pretoria from Thursday, 5th to Saturday, 7th September 2019, according to a statement sent to Pulse by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
In Pretoria, Abubakar delivered the following messages to Ramaphosa as he was asked to do by President Buhari:
He expressed "the deep concern of President Buhari and Nigerians about intermittent violence against Nigerians and their property/business interests in South Africa.
"President Buhari stressed the need for South African government to take visible measures to stop violence against citizens of brotherly African nations.
"President Buhari is worried that the recurring issue of xenophobia could negatively affect the image and standing of South Africa as one of the leading countries on the continent, if nothing is done to stop it.
"The Special Envoy conveyed the assurance of President Buhari that the Nigerian government is ready and willing to collaborate with the South African government to find a lasting solution to the involvement of few Nigerians in criminal activities, and to protect the lives and property of the larger groups of other law abiding Nigerians and indeed Africans in general, against all forms of attacks including xenophobia.
"President Buhari further assured that the Nigerian government will guarantee the safety of lives, property and business interests of South Africans in Nigeria.
"On his part, President Ramaphosa agreed that the violence was most disconcerting and embarrassing, adding that his government completely rejects such acts, which undermine not only the country’s image but also its relations with brotherly African countries.
"President Ramaphosa reaffirmed his stand against criminality and committed to do everything possible to protect the rights of every Nigerian and other foreign nationals in the country.
"The Special Envoy also interfaced with his South African counterpart, where they reviewed the situation of foreign emigrants in general and Nigerians in particular. They agreed to work together to find a permanent solution to the root causes of the recurring attacks on Nigerians and their property.
"President Buhari has taken note of the report and instructed the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs to continue to engage with appropriate authorities on the concrete measure the South African government is expected to take.
"President Buhari has also given instruction for the immediate voluntary evacuation of all Nigerians who are willing to return home."
Counting the arrested
Police spokesman Kay Makhubela announced that at least 640 people have been arrested since the violence broke out last month.
The nationalities of those killed have not been announced but Nigerians, Somalians Ethiopians, Congolese and Zimbabweans have borne most of the brunt of what most pundits prefer to call 'Afrophobia'.
The attacks have threatened to imperil diplomatic relations between Nigeria and South Africa--the two biggest economies in Africa.