South African envoy explains hostility to Nigerians – 234next

Although Nigeria contributed much to liberate South Africa from the stranglehold of apartheid and, thereafter, threw her economic doors wide open for South African investors and goods, these actions have not stopped a low estimation of her citizens by South Africans, the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Kingsley Mamabola, said on Tuesday, in Abuja, at a meeting with the minister of interior, Emmanuel Ihenachor.

Answering a question from NEXT at the meeting planned to explore ways of broadening the existing bilateral relationship between both countries, Mr. Mamabolo gave reasons for the increasing hostilities and physical attacks launched against Nigerians in South Africa.

According to him, the regard for Nigerians in South Africa is very low because the criminal activities of a few Nigerian citizens there are the most visible things to the hosts. He denied, however, any insinuation of government backing for the attacks, insisting that a lot of effort was being made to offer Nigerians in South Africa more protection under the law.

“There is a lot that needs to be done about the perception of South Africans about Nigerians. The perception South Africans have about Nigerians is not good at all. Those Nigerians of a very tiny percentage – I will say just about one percent – engage in crimes that are generally seen by all and which overshadow the good works of the majority of Nigerians.

“South Africa is a law abiding society. There is law and order in our country. There is no lawlessness. South Africans as a whole fight for human rights in general. So, it is not true that the government is not doing anything on the situation. It is only in the newspapers that you see that (the hostility against Nigerians),” Mr. Mamabola said.

Responding, Mr. Ihenachor openly refuted a tag of ‘haven of piracy’ and related criminal activities wrongly placed on Nigeria in the global maritime industry.

Poor perception

The minister denounced the poor perception and challenged promoting the perception to either show evidence of the high activities of pirates in Nigeria or stop the image smear.

“I remember that he said that when he (Mr. Mamabolo) was posted here (to Nigeria), people were saying: ‘why are they punishing you? Why are they sending you here?’

“Now, he is enjoying Nigeria. It is an issue of perception,” the Nigerian minister said.

“If you read the papers and go on the Internet, you will never want to come to Nigeria because they say Nigeria is the second piracy capital in the whole world. This is untrue. I, as a master mariner, I have always been saying that I have not seen even one pirate in Nigeria. I do not know where those reports are coming from. If you report that Nigeria is a piracy nation, then there is a tendency that insurance on all the goods coming to Nigeria will rise,” Mr. Ihenachor said.

Mr. Mamabolo promised to look into the case of the deportation of a Nigerian from South Africa for non-possession of yellow card, with a view to preventing a future occurrence.

Apart from immigration issues, other areas the FG is planning to explore through the meeting with the South African government include prison management and maritime enterprise.

The South African government says it hopes to learn from Nigeria how it has successfully engaged in international peacekeeping for years now, as well as how it has effectively managed the conflicts of its federating units to form unity in diversity.

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