Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s government on Tuesday summoned South Africa’s envoy and said it would dispatch a delegation to Pretoria to express “deep concern” over attacks on Nigerians in a wave of xenophobic violence.
The decision came after mobs descending on business hubs and townships in various parts of South Africa, looting dozens of shops and torching trucks driven by foreigners in a surge of anti-migrant sentiment.
Buhari “has noted with deep concern, reported attacks on Nigerian citizens and property in South Africa since August 29, 2019,” his presidency said in a statement.
The president ordered the foreign minister to summon the South African envoy to get a brief on the situation, express Nigeria’s displeasure, and get guarantees for the safety of its citizens and their property.
A special envoy from Buhari would also arrive in Pretoria on Thursday to convey his displeasure to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The Nigerian government said on Twitter it would not tolerate further attacks on its citizens.
“The continuing attacks on Nigerian nationals and businesses in South Africa are unacceptable. Enough is enough. Nigeria will take definitive measures to ensure safety and protection of her citizens,” it added.
South Africa is a major destination for economic migrants from the southern Africa region, with many moving from neighbouring Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in search for work.
Foreigners, including Nigerians, have been repeatedly targeted in South Africa in recent years.
At least seven immigrants were killed in 2015 when South Africans went on the rampage burning and looting shops owned by foreigners.
Nigeria and South Africa are the two largest economies in the continent but relations have strained between them in recent years, prompting the summoning of their top envoys.
South Africa also has huge investments in Nigeria with telecoms giant MTN, digital pay-television Multichoice and retail outlets, sparking fears of reprisal attacks on the businesses by angry Nigerians.