President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Nigerian counterpart President Muhammadu Buhari have come to an agreement to set up “early warning mechanisms” to detect animosity between South Africans and Nigerians to prevent repetitions of violence.
This comes after a wave of xenophobic attacks mostly targeted on foreign nationals in most parts of Johannesburg, South Africa’s economic powerhouse.
Buhari journeyed to South Africa for a state visit on Thursday following diplomatic tension between Pretoria and Abuja as a result of xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg earlier last month.
Buhari made known his censure for the spate of violence against Nigerians, Ramaphosa equally shoved that Nigerians living in South Africa should respect and abide by the laws of South Africa.
“We are unanimous … the rule of law must be observed by everyone who seeks to operate in the two countries,” Ramaphosa said of his high-level talks with Buhari.
He told the media that the government had conveyed deep regret at the attacks directed at foreign nationals, and criticized all forms of intolerance and acts of unrest.
“We are committed to addressing the genuine concerns of our people around poverty, unemployment, crime, drugs, and migration. We are equally committed to upholding the rule of law and ensuring that all those involved in criminal activities, regardless of their nationality, are prosecuted. We welcome the willingness of the government of Nigeria to work with us to address the challenges,” Ramaphosa said according to Times Live.
Buhari reflected upon, saying the two countries agreed to boost people-to-people relations which led to attacks against foreigners, including Nigerians.
“We have decided to work and take concrete measures to prevent the recurrence of such unacceptable instances in the future,” he said.
Buhari added that both police forces and security agencies must be vigilant and “infiltrate communities” in an effort to avoid violence.
On business and trade, Ramaphosa said they agreed to “address the imbalance” where big South African companies invest in Nigeria while mostly meagre and medium-sized businesses set up shop in South Africa
Meanwhile, outside the Union Buildings, police fired rubber bullets at a small group of Nigerians who were picketing against the state visit, claiming that Ramaphosa was not meeting the real president of Nigeria.
The protesters insisted that the man meeting Ramaphosa was not Buhari but an imposter “dressed in makeup” – and that Buhari had died in 2017.
At least three people were injured when police fired rubber bullets.