Group of demonstrators under the banner “Put South Africa First” on Wednesday marched to the Nigerian Embassy in Pretoria to voice their concerns about criminal activities which they said were being committed by foreign nationals in the country, local media said Thursday.
The group, which is made of different organizations, said that foreign nationals and undocumented migrants were fueling human and drug trafficking in South Africa.
One of the organizers Ike Khumalo told demonstrators that the constitution must be “amended” in an effort to prioritize locals.
Nigeria’s Ambassador to South Africa Kabiru Bala accepted the memorandum from the demonstrators.
“You’re the people that are living with them and they are also living with you. If they commit crimes, you know where to go. As far as Nigeria is concerned, we related with South Africa very well,” he told the demonstrators.
He said institutions established to deal with criminal activities should handle them.
“If a Nigerian commits a crime, there’s regulation, there’s protocol and institutions and you should use them to try them,” said Bala, adding that he would not allow Nigerians to be profiled as criminals in South Africa.
“I am telling you that we don’t accept the profiling of Nigerians as criminals. I will never accept the situation where you will tell me all Nigerians are criminals in this country. That is unacceptable. I will never accept it,” said Bala.
The view of Nigerians as drug dealers, human traffickers and internet scammers, spurred attacks by South Africans on various occasions. Recent Attacks took place in 2009, 2015 and 2019, leading to the deaths and injuries of many poor Nigerians.
The Xenophobia attack last year forced many Nigerians evacuated from South Africa. South African-owned businesses operating in Nigeria were targeted with violence in retaliation.