PRETORIA (Reuters) – Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said on Friday that a wave of deadly violence against Nigerians and other foreign nationals in South Africa last month was an embarrassment to the continent.
In September, rioting and attacks on foreigners led to at least 10 deaths, dozens of injuries and hundreds of arrests, triggering anger at home and abroad.
“The recent acts of xenophobic attacks on our compatriots and other Africans in South Africa are shocking to me, Nigerians and indeed Africa. It was an embarrassment to the continent,” Buhari told a town hall meeting with Nigerians living in South Africa, according to details of his speech on the Nigeria presidency Twitter page.
“As a government, we are quite disturbed by these very unfortunate events and have taken actions and measures to address this issue and prevent their reoccurrence with the South African government,” he added.
Following the attacks, Buhari ordered the immediate voluntary evacuation of all Nigerians wanting to return home and around 600 people were repatriated.
Buhari met South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday. They both regretted the violence and subsequent retaliation in Nigeria against South African businesses, pledging instead to deepen trade ties.
Buhari called for peace at the town hall meeting.
“The authorities have expressed their apologies over the incidents and have resolved to take necessary steps to end this ugly trend in the interest of our relationship,” he said.
“Let us therefore give peace a chance and pray we have seen the last of this ugly violence.”
(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana, Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing ny Giles Elgood)