A 36-year-old Nigerian businessman in South Africa, Mr. Chika Emehelu, yesterday appealed to the Federal Government to persuade the South African government to pay him compensation for the losses he incurred during the wave of xenophobic attacks in the country in 2013.
Emehelu, who is a native of Udi in Enugu State, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Johannesburg that he lost more than R800,000 (N12 million) in the May 2013 xenophobic attacks in that country.
The businessman, who is married to a South African and has three children, said his three shops at Portnolloth, a community in Northern Cape Province of South Africa, were looted during the attack.
Emehelu said local authorities in the province came and took an inventory of the items stolen and destroyed, promising to pay him compensation.
He also said officers from the Nigerian Mission in South Africa had visited his shops to take inventory.
Mr. Emehelu who said his family members were going through hard times, said he had submitted all relevant documents to the South African authorities after the incident, but that nothing had been done since then.
Emehelu, however, appealed to the Federal Government to remind the South African government to pay compensation to Nigerians who suffered losses during the xenophobic attacks. He said:
“As I speak, I lost everything to the mob attack and I need government’s assistance to revive my business.”
The President of Nigeria Union in South Africa, Mr. Ikechukwu Anyene, said the body had compiled a list of Nigerians affected in the attacks and submitted it to the federal government through Nigeria’s consul general in the country.
South Africa has witnessed widespread xenophobic attacks since 1994 in provinces such as Gauteng, Western Cape, Free State, Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal.
There has been this and much speculation of the causes and triggers of the violence. A number of reports have highlighted various issues contributing to xenophobia; some of which include poor service delivery and competition for resources. The type of leadership within communities might have an impact on whether or not xenophobic attacks occur in certain communities, which talks to issues of governance.
The issue is not only about foreign nationals and their rights, but about the safety of all who live in South Africa. Most incidents of violent attacks have been carried out by black South Africans.