Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Nigeria church collapse: Govt denies arms for bodies deal

Government on Friday rubbished claims that Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe promised weapons to Nigeria in return for the repatriation of the bodies of South Africans killed in a building collapse in Lagos.

“Government places it on record that no form of bartering with Nigeria was conducted during the repatriation process,” government spokesperson Phumla Williams said in a statement.

The Mail & Guardian reported that Radebe allegedly bartered with Nigeria to secure the return of the bodies by promising to ensure that an arms sale worth about R100-million, which had been blocked by South Africa, would proceed.

Nigeria apparently wanted the arms, including helicopters and ammunition, to fight against Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.

The M&G reported seeing two letters penned by Radebe in which he seeks to assist Nigeria get the weapons.

“Government is disappointed with the Mail & Guardian’s attempt to discredit the collaborative efforts of the South African and Nigerian governments to repatriate the bodies of South Africans that died in Nigeria,” said Williams.

“The Mail & Guardian report, which clearly holds no water, ignores the fact that South African citizens died outside our borders, and therefore we had to work within the framework of Nigeria’s laws and policies.”

Williams said the use of unnamed sources in the article was tantamount to bringing the repatriation process into disrepute.

On September 12, 116 people, among them 84 South Africans, were killed in the collapse of a multi-storey guest house attached to the Synagogue Church of all Nations in Lagos. 

The remains of 74 of them arrived in South Africa on November 16.

At the time, Radebe said a health department employee who was assisting with the repatriation in Nigeria had also died after contracting malaria. An inquest into the deaths began in mid-October in Nigeria.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Sapa
Guest Author

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Coko vs S ruling: The case against a subjective test...

Acting judge Tembeka Ngcukaitobi’s acquittal of a rape suspect has raised controversy, but legal experts say the fault lay with legislators and not the court

DA’s egregious sexual harassment case finally begins

The party is accused of protecting a councillor, who’s also implicated in R1.2m graft

More top stories

Coko vs S ruling: The case against a subjective test...

Acting judge Tembeka Ngcukaitobi’s acquittal of a rape suspect has raised controversy, but legal experts say the fault lay with legislators and not the court

Defend journalists and media freedom in Eswatini

Journalists are censored through cruel and illegitimate detention, torture and the removal of means to disseminate information to citizens crying – and dying – for it

It’s safe to open the beaches, says UPL after chemical...

Agrochemical producer UPL said it has paid R250-million in chemical spill clean-up

Former spy boss Fraser objects to Zondo’s nomination as chief...

The former director general of intelligence’s character assassination of the deputy chief justice is straight out of the Zuma playbook
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×