|Mozambican national, Emmanuel Sithole, being attacked by the xenophobes. He was eventually killed. | credits: James Oatway of Sunday Times|
Following the outcry against the xenophobia attacks on Nigerians and other migrant workers in South Africa, the Federal Government on Saturday summoned its two senior diplomats on tour of duty in South Africa.
They are the acting High Commissioner in Pretoria, Ambassador Martin Cobham and the Deputy High Commissioner in Johannesburg, Ambassador Uche Ajulu – Okeke.
It was however not clear whether they would be recalled since there had been agitations by Nigeria and civil rights activists that the country’s envoy should be queried and summoned to give explanation on the attacks.
A statement from the Public Communications Division of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, obtained by SUNDAY PUNCH in Abuja, said the summon was at the instance of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Bashir Wali.
“The invitation is in connection with the on-going xenophobia in South Africa targeting foreigners, mainly African migrants,” the statement said.
The ministry recalled that the current spate of attacks which began about three weeks ago had claimed about seven lives and led to. “the destruction of property and created fear and uncertainty in the minds of African migrants in the former apartheid enclave.”
“The South African President, Mr. Jacob Zuma has condemned the attacks in a statement presented to the South African National Assembly. Ditto for the Zulu Monarch, Goodwill Zwelithini, whose alleged inciting comment provoked the attacks. Well-meaning South Africans have also organised peace marches against the xenophobia,” it said.
The Federal Government had recently summoned the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Lulu Mnguni, to protest against the attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners.
The government had also demanded compensation from South African authorities for the victims of the attacks.
A similar statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said during the meeting with the envoy, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Musiliu Obanikoro, expressed concern over the fate of Nigerians and other nationals who are migrant workers in the country.
He underscored the fact that since South Africa is a major player in the continent, the county should have its nationals live in peace in other countries.
Obanikoro called on the South African government to “take concrete steps to quell the unrest and bring the culprits involved to book, to serve as a deterrent to others and prevent further reoccurrence.”
The minister also demanded “compensation for victims” of the attacks from South Africa.
Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma has promised Nigerians and other African immigrants in his country that future attacks on foreigners would be prevented.
Zuma also said the citizens of the country were not xenophobic.
He stated this on Friday at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria in a meeting with Nigerians and other immigrants in the country, promising that efforts would be made to prevent future attacks on foreigners.