After suffering the worst public humiliation at the funeral of late president of Zimbabwe, Mr. Robert Mugabe on Saturday, September 14, the president of South Africa, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa has officially apologised to Nigeria for the spate of xenophobic assault unleashed on Nigerians in the rainbow nation.
Ramaphosa’s special envoy to Nigeria, Mr. Jeff Radebe, conveyed the apology when he met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Monday.
Addressing the media after the meeting Radebe said he was in Nigeria to convey Ramaphosa’s apologies about the “recent incident that has recently transpired in South Africa.”
“The incident does not represent what we stand for,” Radebe said, adding South African police would “leave no stone unturned, that those involved must be brought to book”.
“We met a short while ago with President Muhammadu Buhari to convey our President Ramaphosa’s sincerest apologies about the incidents that recently transpired in South Africa.
“Those incidents do not represent what we stand for as constitutional democracy in South Africa and the President has apologized for these incidents and he has also instructed law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned so that all those involved must be brought to book so that the rule of laws must prevail in South Africa,’’ he said.
Ramaphosa, according to the envoy, said Nigeria and South Africa must continue to play a critical role in rebuilding of Africa to attain the Agenda 2063.
The presidency, in a statement after the meeting said: “President Muhammadu Buhari responded to profuse apologies from the South African president, pledging that relationship between the two countries will be solidified.”
Foreign workers in South Africa – the continent’s second-largest economy after Nigeria – are often victims of anti-immigrant sentiment in a nation where almost one-third of people are unemployed.
At least 12 people were killed in recent weeks after 1,000 foreign-owned businesses were targeted.
The violence prompted reprisal attacks against South African firms in Nigeria and the temporary closure of South Africa’s diplomatic missions in Lagos and Abuja.
The violence sparked an international outcry and calls for a boycott of South Africa.
Following the violence, Nigeria announced it would repatriate more than 600 nationals to protect them from future violence.
Besides the hundreds of Nigerians returning to their home country, more than 700 people from other countries, including Malawi and Zimbabwe, sought refuge in South African community centres.
Many left their homes with little more than a few bags when the attacks began.
In 2008, at least 62 people, including South Africans, were killed in violence and looting targeting foreign-owned stores.