AT least three Nigerians have been reported dead in South Africa following the latest spate of pogroms that have seen xenophobic mobs attack Nigerian-owned businesses and homes in Johannesburg.
After a recent lull, attacks against other Africans have come back with a vengeance over the last week over the last week, with impoverished mobs looting and burning properties belonging to foreigners, mainly Nigerians. Adetola Olubajo, the president of the Nigeria Union South Africa (Nusa), said the attacks began on Sunday morning in the Jeppestown area of Johannesburg when a building was set ablaze by an angry mob.
He added: “The mob also looted several shops that were around the vicinity suspected to be owned by foreign nationals but the police later dispersed the mob and made some arrests. Late in the evening of Sunday, September 1, a group of violent locals suspected to be Zulu hostel dwellers besieged Jules Street in Malvern, Johannesburg looted and burned shops/businesses.
“Also, some businesses owned by foreign nationals were looted in Germiston on Sunday evening. A Nigerian-owned Internet café and computer accessories business was among the looted shops in Germiston.”
According to an eyewitness, the Zulu hostel dwellers were very organised and well-coordinated in looting and burning of shops/businesses suspected to be owned by foreign nationals. Mr Olubajo said that in the Malvern area, over 50 shops/businesses were destroyed, looted and burnt overnight.
“When I got the sad news late on Sunday evening, I immediately informed the police in Jeppestown but lots of damage had been done already. The means of livelihood of people were looted and destroyed by fire overnight which has left many Nigerians traumatised.
“Nigerian-owned businesses were seriously affected and a car sales business owned by a Nigerian were among the several businesses set ablaze overnight. Although the police said that many people had been arrested in connection with the unnecessary attacks, the looting and burning of foreign-owned businesses continued till Monday morning,” Mr Olubajo said.
He added that there were massive protest marches in different parts of Johannesburg which were targeted against foreign nationals, noting that some of the areas affected by the violent protest march were Rosettenville, Turfontein, Germison, Primrose and Silverton in Pretoria. It appears that Johannesburg and Pretoria in particular have been targeted by angry and impoverished mobs.
“We implore the security operatives to be proactive and not reactive as many long years hard-earned investments have been lost through looting, destruction and burning. Our government officials in South Africa should also seriously engage their counterparts in South Africa.
“This proactive move will go a long way to prevent further loss of properties and even lives. The situation is tensed and very dangerous for foreign nationals, hence, we implore Nigerians in South Africa, most especially in Gauteng Province to be vigilant and stay safe,” Mr Olubajo said.