International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor says South Africa is in contact with Nigerian authorities regarding calls in Nigeria for the expulsion of South Africans and protests at South African owned businesses in the west African nation.
The protests are said to be in response to alleged killings of Nigerians by South Africans.
“As you are aware, these allegations are devoid of truth, reckless and unwarranted. We find these statements most unfortunate as they don’t reflect the strong relations that exist between the people and the Government of South Africa and Nigeria, Pandor said.
“The two countries enjoy strong bilateral relations, which were forged over many years during our struggle for liberation in South Africa and in this democratic era, fully supported by the people and Government of Nigeria,” the DIRCO Minister added.
Weekend reports from Nigeria stated that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and President Cyril Ramaphosa, have scheduled a meeting in October to discuss the escalating tensions between the two largest African economies.
Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, confirmed this development in a statement in AbujaSaturday.
Pandor’s comments came at her department’s monthly media briefing on international matters. She was joined by Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Pandor said the Acting High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bobby Moroe has had several meetings with the police and other senior government officials in Nigeria.
“We have also had contact from the highest level of the Nigerian government, we have been assured that authorities in Nigeria are taking these calls for protests seriously. They have also assured us that South African citizens and their property in Nigeria will be protected,” she said.
The statements referred to, appear to result from the unfortunate passing of Elizabeth Ndubuisi-Chukwu, the Deputy Director-General of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria, in June 2019.
The South African Police Service is still investigating the incident.
“We believe no one should abuse this unfortunate tragedy to generate negative sentiments about South Africa and we express our condolences to Mrs. Ndubuisi-Chukwu’s family; friends and the people of Nigeria,” said the Minister.
Pandor’s remarks comes just a week after police tactically withdrew from an intelligence-driven operation targeting counterfeit goods in the Joburg CBD.
Among those arrested for attacking the police at the operation were South African citizens and some foreign nationals.
Cele said police target all criminality regardless of the perpetrator’s nationality.
“We deal with everything that is criminality. We deal with any and everybody that commits crime without looking at the nationality of that particular person.
“Criminality is criminality regardless of who commits it,” said Cele.
Pandor said it was worth mentioning that, daily, Nigerian nationals travel to South Africa for a multiplicity of reasons ranging from business, tourism and academic purposes.
She said similarly, South Africans have chosen Nigeria as their preferred destination for investment and other activities of interest.
Nigeria is home to approximately 120 South African companies, amongst which are MTN, Shoprite, Multichoice, SAA, and Game.
All these companies have over the years contributed towards job creation and social responsibility programmes for Nigerian nationals, both young and old.
“We are, therefore, very pleased that our strong relations were able to place South African business on a firm footing in Nigeria, and also paved the way for further investments by Nigerian business in South Africa,” Pandor said.
“With the support of the High Commission in Nigeria, we want to invite to South Africa some of the leaders of student organisations leading the calls for protests against South African businesses in Nigeria.
“I hope their visit will help them to develop a different view from that which they have about South Africa,” Pandor said.