A 34-year-old Nigerian man, died in South African police custody last week. According to eyewitnesses, the Nigerian national was allegedly suffocated to death by the police in Kempton Park, Johannesburg. Police officials, however, claimed that the Nigerian died after he swallowed drugs to evade arrest, an investigation is under way.
The threat to the black South African people is not so much Nigerian people as it is invariably the threat to the low number of jobs they have access to, and another block to the accession of reaching a higher level on the socioeconomic ladder post apartheid. Xenophobic attacks have no limit, and all immigrants including Indians, Congolese, and Zimbabweans, fear for their future.
Moreover, Nigerian nationals, specifically men, with little or no avenues for access to gainful and permanent employment often take the route of illegal drug trafficking that has grown rapidly, especially during the four years post apartheid, this doesn’t help matters.
With the number of Nigerian nationals who live in the ‘Rainbow Nation’ numbering about 24,000 respectively an Al Jazeera report written by Fisayo Soyombo last year almost implores the Nigerian government to make changes Soyombo states that the government simply needs to make Nigeria more attractive to Nigerians, with the title “South Africans have never really wanted Nigerians”.
Goodwill Zwelithini, the reigning king of South Africa’s Zulu nation aided in triggerering a wave of attacks that surged in April 2015 after saying “black immigrants must take their bags and go where they came from”. He later claimed his comments were taken out of context. But he quickly added: “If it were true that I said foreigners must go, this country would be up in flames.”
South African president Jacob Zuma urged his countrymen to understand that “no amount of economic hardship and discontent will ever justify attacking foreign nationals”.
Current Nigeria – South Africa relations can be considered as good politically, especially after President Buhari’s recent visit with Zuma.
There is also a good historical relationship between Nigeria and South Africa. Both countries are former British colonies. Both countries are members of the Commonwealth of Nations and African Union. Both countries are the leading African giants of the continent.
During the apartheid era in South Africa, Nigeria was one of the foremost supporters of Black South African liberation movements, including the African National Congress.
The high number of nationals from Nigeria living in South Africa and the low number of job opportunities for native South Africans derives from the same clause for both nations – crisis of governance, abject poverty and staggering unemployment rates.