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28 May 2008 09:45
Nigeria will press for compensation from the South African government for its citizens who were victims of xenophobic attacks in the country, Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe said late on Tuesday in Abuja.
“Following instructions from the foreign ministry, the Nigerian mission has already compiled the list of Nigerians affected during the mayhem with the purpose of seeking compensation from South African government for loss of properties and physical injuries,” he told journalists.
Fifty-six people have been killed and tens of thousands of foreigners left homeless, mainly around Johannesburg, after two weeks of attacks. The anti-immigrant attacks have since spread to most parts of the country.
The minister said that although no Nigerian has been killed in the wave of the attacks, many of them lost their properties while others had had their shops looted.
The Nigerian mission, in cooperation with the South African Red Cross and other relief agencies, has taken steps to provide short-term relief to the affected Nigerians, the minister said.
Despite these attacks against its citizens, Nigeria is still “committed to the strengthening of relations [with South Africa] in the overall interests of the peoples of the two countries in particular and Africa in general.” he stated.
State-run News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported last week that Nigerians resident in Hillbrow, Berea and Yeoville districts in Johannesburg were attacked and their shops vandalised or looted.
South Africa made its first public apology last Friday in Abuja for a wave of attacks on foreigners, with deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka voicing the government’s concern during a visit to Nigeria.
“We are very much concerned and apologise for all the inconveniences that the incidents have caused,” Mlambo-Ngcuka told a bilateral conference in the Nigerian capital.
“We reject the notion that some of the people who are living in South Africa who are not South Africans can be blamed for the problems that we have,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
On Sunday President Thabo Mbeki lambasted the “shameful acts” which he said have sullied the reputation of a country styled as a rainbow nation since the end of the apartheid regime 14 years ago.
Foreigners in South Africa, many of whom have fled economic meltdown in neighbouring Zimbabwe, are being blamed for sky-high crime rates and depriving locals of jobs.
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