A spokesman of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in South Africa, Clayson Monyela says Nigeria overreacted to the recent xenophobic attack in the country.
Businesses of Nigerians based in South Africa were targetted in the attacks which made the federal government summon South African’s high commissioner, Bobby Moroe.
Nigeria also pulled out of the World Economic Forum which held in South Africa while President Muhammadu Buhari sent Ahmed Abubakar, director-general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), to convey his feelings to President Cyril Ramaphosa over the incident.
There were reprisal attacks in Nigeria, leading to MTN shutting down its offices. Some Shoprite’s stores were also looted while the South African mission in Nigeria suspended operations.
Monyela said the Nigerian special envoy was, during engagements with South Africa, given the “facts” and told that “they are mostly reacting to fake news”.
But Monyela said despite not a single Nigerian was killed in the incident, the country was the “most vocal”.
According to City Press, a South African media, Monyela said the Nigerian special envoy left South Africa having “understood the overreaction by their country”.
They were told ‘not a single Nigerian was killed yet your country is the most vocal’,” Monyela was quoted to have said.
“A challenge was thrown back at them to play their part in addressing the big challenge of international migration.
“The problem is that sending countries do not help much in creating a conducive environment that will not force citizens to leave their countries in droves and only speak out when there is a problem in the receiving country. It is a problem not only South Africa but in the UK, US and other countries which are overburdened with the responsibility of hosting foreign nationals.”
On compensating Nigerians who suffered losses, Monyela said they made the envoy aware that South African businesses were also attacked in Nigeria in reprisal. He said they would have to be compensated too if Nigeria maintains its position.
“There were those reprisal attacks on South African businesses, and we told them ‘if you raise compensation, we will also raise it in your country.”
He noted that the engagements with the envoy also ensured that diplomatic ties between South Africa and Nigeria remain intact.
Ramaphosa had on Sunday dispatched three envoys to Nigeria and six other African countries to deliver messages of pan-African unity.
Khusela Diko, a presidential spokesperson, said the envoys will also brief governments in the countries about the steps that the South African government is taking to bring a stop to the attacks and hold the perpetrator to account.
Foreign affairs minister, Geoffery Onyeama had tweeted a reaction to the arrival of a group of Nigerians voluntarily repatriated from South Africa: “Let me also appeal to Nigerians in South Africa to remain calm … and patient as the Federal Government is engaging relevant stakeholders towards finding permanent measures to stop the crisis.”