Fg To Address Challenges Faced By Nigerians In South Africa As President Zuma Visits Nigeria
SAN FRANCISCO, March 06, (THEWILL) – The Federal Government has pledged to use the planned visit of Jacob Zuma, the South African president, to Nigeria in addressing a myriad of challenges being faced by Nigerians living in South Africa.
Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs, made the pledge when the Nigeria Union, South Africa (NUSA), the umbrella body for all Nigerians living in South Africa, visited him in Abuja led by their President, Ikechukwu Anyene.
Anyene said Nigerians living in South Africa were found in the different strata of the society, but were faced with a plethora of problems on a daily basis.
“For some years now, a lot of Nigerians in South Africa have been victims of assassination by unknown people and rogue officers of the South African Police Service,” he said.
“This is strange in a country where the police force is efficient and the rate of successful prosecution is high, does this mean that Nigerian lives do not matter? he queried. Between 2014 and 2015, the overall successful prosecution rate of criminal cases in South Africa was 92.2 percent.”
He also said that the immigration laws in South Africa were recently reviewed and it has practically rendered a lot of foreign Nationals in South Africa and Nigerians also as illegal.
Onyeama said he had taken good note of their complaints and would address them through the bi-national commission in South Africa, which was established to look at areas of cooperation between Nigeria and South Africa.
“So I believe that since the issue you identified was broad, ranging from different aspects, criminal, financial and immigration issues, it is something we are going to bring into the next Bi-national commission meeting,” said the minister.
On the issue of incessant harassment and killing of Nigerians in South Africa, he said that a representation would be made through the government.
“it has now become very difficult to acquire South African permits, as Nigerians in South Africa are made to face numerous bottlenecks when trying to renew their temporary residence permits, but the same thing cannot be said of South Africans visiting or working in Nigeria,” he said.
He therefore urged the government to prevail on South African to relax the permit/visa restrictions for Nigerians as they have done for Southern African countries like Zimbabwe and Lesotho.
While acknowledging that the South African government has done a lot of work to curb xenophobia, he said that more still needed to be done because xenophobia still remains a huge challenge in South Africa.
He said that the union had developed an identity card for all Nigerians in collaboration with the Consulate General in Johannesburg.
“We would like to suggest that the identity card be given recognition as another means of identification alongside others,” he said.
Story by David Oputah