By Bukola Olasanmi
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday began a visit to South Africa with a call to the protection of Nigerians and other foreign nationals living in the country. Buhari condemned the xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg, South Africa’s capital which led to the looting of shops owned by foreign nationals.
He demands that measures should be put in place to prevent the re-occurrence of the attacks. “Mr President, we have condemned in strongest terms attacks against Nigerians and other African nationals living in South Africa, including the looting of their shops and businesses and burning of their properties. “We call for the strengthening and the implementation of all the necessary measures to prevent the reoccurrence of such actions,” Buhari said at the start of the meeting with South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa in response repeatedly apologised over the attacks, reiterated his government’s “deep regret at the incidents of public violence”. “Some of the acts of violence were directed at foreign nationals and some of whom coming from your own country”. “We firmly condemn all forms of intolerance and will not hesitate to act against criminal acts and violence,” he said.
Buhari and his counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa later went into long-planned talks aimed at bolstering trade ties and political cooperation as both leaders struggle to boost their flagging economies. The three-day state visit, the first to South Africa by a Nigerian leader since 2013, had been planned before the wave of violence.
A “town hall meeting” between Buhari and Nigerians living in South Africa is scheduled for Friday to listen to the expats’ experience and showcase efforts to support them.