The Consulate General of Nigeria in Johannesburg says the Oct. 22 attack on businesses owned by Nigerians in Witbank in the Mpumalamga district of South Africa was a criminal act and not xenophobic.
The Nigerian Consul General in Johannesburg, Godwin Adama made the clarification in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria.
The consul general said that the attack, which occurred at about 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22 was masterminded by taxi drivers under the guise of fighting crime.
Adama said that with the cooperation of the police the matter was resolved in less than an hour.
“We held a meeting with the police authorities and they led us to the place where the attack occurred.
“Although it happened in a different locality (from the previous one), we agreed to meet often to prevent reoccurrence.
“The police promised to invite the taxi drivers association and Nigerian Citizens Association in South Africa (NICASA) to a meeting to discuss and resolve issues amicably.
“There is no problem at the moment and we are monitoring the situation keenly and we have been able to reach a reasonable stage of agreement and help out.
“The government is doing everything here to fight crime. The locals take laws into their hands thinking that the police was not doing enough, which is what mostly leads to attack.
“People feel there is drug or human trafficking and security operatives are not meeting expectations, and so they take laws into their hands in order to fight crime, but it does not work that way.”
He commended the security agencies for cooperating with the Nigerian mission “in tackling issues that affect foreign nationals, particularly Nigerians living in that country”.
He said efforts would be made to preempt and stop any form of attack in future, rather than wait for it to happen.
He said that modalities had been put in place to ensure effective implementation of agreements reached by Nigeria and South Africa to prevent all forms of conflict between citizens of the two countries.
“There was nothing like xenophobia; this attack was crime-related and it is just that some criminals took advantage of the opportunity to carry out crime.
“We have draft rules and agreements in place; it is a people-to-people relationship we want to concentrate on.
“If it is government-to-government we do not have much problem at all.
“It is not a one-day matter to resolve, but such modality requires constant discussion platforms to enable people to be able to interact.
“To be able to arrest crime, it is better to take issues related to crime to the police station, rather than take laws into your hands,” he added.