The Nigerian Citizens Association in South Africa, NICASA, lamented the attacks on foreign nationals by locals in South Africa on April 7, 2022.
NICASA President, Benjamin Okoli, states this in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday.
Okoli noted that foreign nationals and businesses were attacked in Diepsloot, a township north of Johannesburg.
He said, “The attack started in the morning with locals going from shop to shop looting and burning shops owned by foreign nationals.
“The locals caught a Zimbabwean national, his legs tied and was set ablaze. While he struggled, the locals continued to hit him with sticks until he died.
“Nigerian business owners in the area were affected, their shops were looted, and some looted shops were set alight. Nigerians are engaged in different businesses in Diepsloot, selling hairpieces and salons. There are also general merchandise, Gold exchange and business centres. Twelve shops owned by Nigerians were affected by the looting and attack. No Nigerian life was lost in the attack.”
“Nigerians in the area have evacuated to safer areas until the situation returns to normal.”
Okoli faulted Operation Dudula activists for encouraging and spearheading attacks on foreigners, and he added that the group had demanded that foreign nationals must leave South Africa
He noted that the group leader, Nhlanla Lux, whom the court recently granted bail over his group’s activities, was present with his group during the attack.
He narrated that the South African Minister of Police Affairs, Mr Bheki Cele, arrived on the scene with teams of Police Officers in the township to tackle the situation.
“Cele assured the restive local community that he would return the following day, “Friday”, with Home Affairs officials and other officers to check house-to-house for undocumented foreign nationals.
“The local community had demanded that the foreign nationals leave and emphasise Nigerians, whom they accuse of dealing in drugs.
“This accusation has been a regular pastime of most local South Africans who label Nigerians as drug dealers; NICASA branch leader in the Township, Evangelist Orlando, disagrees with the allegations.
“No Nigerian has ever been arrested in Diepsloot for drug dealing, nor has any Nigerian business owner in Diepsloot ever been caught in possession of drugs,” he added.
Speaking further, Okoli stressed that the country suffered from xenophobia attacks with significant losses. He said Nigerians have been stereotyped as drug dealers.
“The unprovoked attack against foreigners, particularly looting and destruction of Nigerians-owned businesses, is unwarranted and an unfortunately regular in South Africa.
“Nigerians have continued to be at the receiving end of this xenophobia attack with significant losses and trauma; our compatriots are peace-loving people who respect the laws of their host community and country.
“We suffered so much arising from xenophobia attacks, hate and stereotyping of our nationals. NICASA leadership visited the area to see our people’s grave situation during this unwarranted attack.
“We spoke with members of our community who narrated their near-death experiences during the crisis. This is not the first time Nigerians have come under attack in Diepsloot.
“It happened in 2014, and the accusations had been that Nigerians are drug dealers. Meanwhile, no Nigerian has ever been arrested in Diepsloot for dealing in drugs or possession of it,” the NICASA boss also said.
The group’s president noted that the Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, Muhammad Manta, had been informed about the incident.