Nigerian students' ultimatum to South African businesses expires as tensions rise

JOHANNESBURG, August 15 (ANA) – The deadline for the one-week ultimatum given to South African businesses in Nigeria by the National Association of Nigerian Students to leave the country, as part of an angry backlash against allegations of ongoing xenophobia in South Africa, has expired.

The ultimatum has expired as tensions between Abuja and Pretoria spike ahead of a visit to South Africa by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in October.

Nearly 120 South African companies, including Stanbic Bank, Shoprite, South African Airways, Multichoice, and mobile operator MTN, could be impacted by the ongoing student protests which have been taking place across Nigeria’s major cities over the past two weeks, Africa News reported.

The students’ anger was triggered by the death of Elizabeth Ndubuisi Chukwu, the director general of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria, at a hotel in Johannesburg on June 13 with an autopsy report stating that she had been strangled.

However, the Nigerian Senate has also condemned the treatment of its nationals in South Africa and when Buhari flies in on his official visit in October the issue is sure to be a major discussion point when he meets with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Brutal and deadly attacks on foreign African nationals by South Africans has been an ongoing issue for several years now with some critics accusing elements of the South African government of helping foment the xenophobia.

In just one of these attacks a group of unemployed men attacked Malawian migrants living in Durban at the end of March. However, some of the worst attacks made international headlines in 2008 when a series of attacks left 62 people dead, although 21 of those killed were South African citizens.

In 2015 another nationwide spike in xenophobic attacks against immigrants in general prompted a number of foreign governments to begin repatriating their citizens

The issue came to a head on Monday when hundreds of African migrants considered illegal appeared at the Johannesburg magistrate court after they were arrested by police during a raid on migrant-owned shops in the city the previous week.

During the arrests several police officers were injured after a number of the alleged illegals launched a vicious attack on the officers. In addition to the assaults the South African authorities allege those arrested were selling counterfeit goods and didn’t have legal papers to be in South Africa.

However, South African and foreign supporters of those arrested held protests outside the magistrate court, asserting that some of those arrested were in possession of documents legalising their residence in South Africa.

Naledi Pandor, South Africa's minister for international relations and cooperation, subsequently issued a statement denying that her government was targeting foreigners and their businesses, stressing that the police had to maintain law and order after immigrants attacked them when they were carrying out the raids.

- African News Agency

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