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Nigeria/SA forum to negotiate peace deal between locals and foreign nationals

Image: 123RF/ Дмитрий Иванов

A peace deal will be put together between South Africans and Nigerian nationals living in the country with the aim of improving relations and ending animosity which led to the recent xenophobic attacks.

Nig-SA Unity Forum, which is made up of both locals and foreign nationals, will provide a platform for South African and foreign nationals to agree on a path aimed at preventing tension between the parties and strengthening relations.

The event will be held in Midrand and led by, among others, African Christian Democratic Party leader Rev Kenneth Meshoe.

Meshoe said South Africans needed to understand the role played by the rest of the continent in bringing freedom to the country.

“We felt that it is important to try to reconcile the two groups [Nigerians and South Africans] and other nationals. Nigerians contributed to the liberation of South Africa…We think that we need to retain relations with them. Obviously we know that there are some Nigerians in the country who have been caught in illegal activity including drug dealing. But it is not correct to paint the whole nation with the same brush,” Meshoe said.

On September 1, xenophobic attacks began in Malvern, eastern Johannesburg, and spread to other parts of Gauteng, leaving a trail of damage to infrastructure and businesses.

Shops belonging to both locals and foreign nationals were set alight and looted. These acts resulted in serious clashes between foreign nationals and locals. A total of 12 people were killed during the clashes and police arrested more than 600 individuals for various crimes.

The attacks caused serious diplomatic fallouts for South Africa on the rest of the continent.

South African businesses based in Nigeria such as MTN and MultiChoice were forced to shut down some of their operations temporarily as citizens of that country retaliated.

The attacks even left Bafana Bafana without an opponent to play against during the Fifa break. Zambia,  which was scheduled to play Bafana, pulled out of the match and their replacement, Madagascar, later cancelled.

The government condemned the attacks and insisted that South Africans in general were not xenophobic.

Meshoe said both South Africans and Nigerians will offer apologies to each other and acknowledge the wrong each party has done.

“People from Nigeria are aware that there are some of their nationals who have harmed relations in South Africa by getting involved in illegal activity. They are not hiding that. Apologies will be from both sides. Both sides have a reason to apologise,” he said.

The forum will also involve other nations from the rest of the continent.

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