Written by Muideen Olaniyi with agency reports
. Nigerians’ Shops Looted, Burnt in Johannesburg, Durban
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At least 300 Nigerians have been displaced on Jeppes Town near Johannesburg as the attacks on foreign Africans nationals continued yesterday in spite of appeals by President Jacob Zuma to the protesters to sheath their sword.
The News Agency of Nigeria quoted an official of the Nigerian Union in South Africa as saying the body had concluded arrangements to resettle many Nigerians affected by the xenophobic attacks.
The President of the union, Ikechukwu Anyene, made this known in an interview with the NAN on phone from Pretoria, South Africa, on Saturday.
MANY NIGERIANS DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO
Mr. Anyene said the Nigerians were displaced at Jeppes Town, near Johannesburg.
“We met about 300 Nigerians in Jeppes town, near Johannesburg, who fled for their safety and about 50 of them do not have any place to stay.
“We are making arrangements with the Nigerian mission in South Africa to get them a place to stay for their safety.
“The Nigerian union has also presented relief materials to those affected by the attacks and we are in touch with various branch chapters of the union in the provinces on their safety and security,’’ he said.
According to him, Nigerian shops and businesses in Durban and Johannesburg have been looted and some burnt.
He said that two shops belonging to Nigerians in Durban were looted and they lost goods worth 400,000 Rand.
“In Jeppes Town, near Johannesburg, five shops were looted and one burnt while the estimated loss is put at One million Rand.
“The incidents have been reported to the police and we are still taking stock of attacks on Nigerians,’’ he said.
Mr. Anyene reiterated the union’s call to the Federal Government to put more pressure on the South African government to halt the attacks.
WE’RE SCARED; WE’RE WORRIED
In the same vein, Mr Sharif Danis, a Nigerian who claimed to have lived in South Africa for 15 years, told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Johannesburg at the weekend that he and others had been compelled to lock up theirs shop when the police told them to do so as a result of the attacks. Below is his brief interview with the BBC.
How do you feel about the attacks?
The way things stand now, we are worried; we are scared. Even right now, if this continues I don’t know how I’m going to pay my rent this month.
The protesters said they’re after illegal migrants. Do you live here illegally?
I’ve got a South African Identification Card. I’ve got a South African Driver’s License, and I have a South African passport. I’m not living here illegally.
They are saying foreign nationals are taking their jobs. Are you taking their jobs?
I think that is arrant nonsense because there is no job being taken. If you look around here, there are 30 shops empty. If they say foreigners are taking their jobs why don’t they take these shops and start something?
Are the police helping you?
The government is down its own bit, but they should do more by allaying the fears and asking the people to go back to their homes.
I’ve been to Nigeria. It’s a very vibrant country. What’s the difference between living in Nigeria and living here in South Africa?
If I should take you to my place, my mother would make food for you first before making it for me. That’s how we show appreciation to foreigners in my country.
But South Africans do the same thing. Why this crisis?
An idle man is always a devil’s workshop. When people are engaged in things that wouldn’t help them in life, when they see others improving, they become jealous. We’ve seen that what the locals want us to do is to go, and the government is not helping us. Who are we to stay?
‘We’re in touch with our mission in Pretoria’
Last week Foreign minister Aminu Wali said no Nigerian had been affected in the attacks. According to him, “With the discussions I have been having with Nigeria’s Head of Mission in Pretoria, no Nigerian has so far been affected. They informed me that they have called the Nigerian community and addressed them and told them to close their shops, stay home and keep out of trouble and obey the laws of South Africa. They have also confirmed that the South African authority has moved in to take actions that would forestall any further disturbance in South Africa.”
He added that government would evacuate Nigerians if the situation got worse: “If it gets worse it is the duty of our country to make sure our people are brought back, and we are taking that duty serious. We are not prepared to allow any of our nationals to be subjected to such inhuman treatment. We are monitoring the situation and will now take action according to the situation that develops,” he said.
The CNN reported that “the violence targeting immigrant shops started recently in the port city of Durban, where two foreigners and three South Africans were killed. Residents have accused African immigrants of taking their jobs and committing crimes. The unemployment rate in South Africa <http://www.statssa.gov.za/?p=4445> is 25%, according to government figures.
“A sixth death occurred Wednesday. The body of a 58-year-old foreign national was found in Verulam town, where a mob attacked the man at his home. He fled and died of his injuries near his home, South African police said.
At least 112 people have been arrested throughout KwaZulu-Natal Province for various offenses related to the violence, police said.”
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