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‘You’ve always stood behind us’ … Ramaphosa ‘sincerely’ apologises to Nigeria for xenophobic attacks

SOUTH African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has apologised to Nigerians for recent xenophobic attacks against her citizens and other African nationals resident in his country. 

This was conveyed on Monday by former South African energy minister Jeff Radebe who led a special envoy appointed by Ramaphosa to deliver messages to seven African countries including Nigeria. They set out on the mission on Saturday.

Addressing officials of the Nigerian government and journalists at the State House, Radebe said he met with President Muhammadu Buhari “a short while ago… to convey our president, Ramaphosa’s, sincerest apologies about the incidents that have recently transpired in South Africa.”

He said the xenophobic incidents did not represent what South Africa stands for as a constitutional democracy.

Ramaphosa, he said, has apologised for the attacks and also instructed law enforcement agencies to bring all culprits to book so that the rule of law may prevail.

“He also conveyed his fond memories of ensuring that both Nigeria and South Africa must continue to play a critical role in the rebuilding of Africa to attain the Agenda 2063: the Africa that we want,” he said.

“We have also recalled with very fond memories of the historical ties that exist between Nigeria and South Africa during the dark days of apartheid. We always knew that the Nigerian people and their government always stood behind our leaders who were fighting against the obnoxious system of apartheid.

“There is a commission between South Africa and Nigeria and on the 3rd of October during President Buhari’s visit to South Africa, there will be detailed discussions that are going to be held there. I do understand that this issue of compensation, restitution is part of the agenda items in the draft that the Nigerian government has presented to South Africa.”

Ramaphosa had himself apologised in Zimbabwe on Saturday after he was jeered during a speech at the funeral of former Zimbabwean leader, Robert Mugabe.

“I stand before you as a fellow African to express my regret and apologise for what has happened in our country,” he said.

Earlier in September, Ramaphosa confirmed the death of 10 persons, including two foreigners, as a result of “acts of violence and criminality directed against foreign nationals and our own citizens” spanning several days.

On September 9, two persons were also killed and many others wounded in another bout of mob violence in Johannesburg.

Nigeria, one of the countries with most victims, has decided to evacuate hundreds of her nationals who are resident in South Africa and willing to return home.

Out of 640 Nigerians who have expressed their wish to move, 187 have returned while an additional group of 319 returnees are expected by Tuesday evening, according to Abike Dabiri-Erewa, chairperson of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission.

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