Ramaphosa: South Africans do not hate Nigerians

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari gesture at each other at the State House in Abuja, Nigeria July 11, 2018. Photo: Reuters

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has rejected the widespread view among Nigerians that South African’s are killing their citizens on home soil.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks to Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari (R) at the State House in Abuja, Nigeria, July 11, 2018. Reuters

Mr. Ramaphosa met with his Nigeria counterpart Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday where the purported targeted killings of Nigerians in South Africa was high on the agenda.

Speaking to the media after the event at the State House in Abuja, Ramaphosa rejected the narrative that Nigerians are being targeted in South Africa, saying that it’s purely a matter of criminality.

“I want to state here and now that South Africans do not have any form of negative disposition or hatred towards Nigerians and in the main, Nigerians and South Africans and a number of our places in our country, live side-by-side.”

Killings of Nigerians have been a recurrent tragedy in South Africa in recent times, thus prompting a belief that it was a xenophobic act being deliberately perpetrated against Nigerians by South Africans.

But Mr. Ramaphosa added that the killings of foreign nationals, including Nigerians were “a result of criminal activities among South Africans that the government is focusing on from a criminal element point of view.”

“So, I want to dispel this notion that when a Nigerian loses his or her life in South Africa, it is as a result of an intentional action by South Africans against Nigerians. That is simply not true.

He attributed the criminal acts to prevalent of high levels of unemployment among young South Africans, as well as the appalling state of poverty in the country, which he said was caused by several years of apartheid in the country.

He added that inequality between the rich and the poor among South Africans also goes a long way in fueling crimes in the country.

Nigeria is the first African country outside the Southern African region that Mr. Ramaphosa has visited. Ramaphosa says the visit was meant to deepen relations with Nigeria.

He also said both countries would focus on Bi-National Commission that was set up between them, disclosing that he had invited Buhari to the next Bi-National Commission meeting in South Africa.